7 Myths You Shouldn't Believe About Your Heart Health


There’s a lot of information out there about the right way to care for and understand your heart health – and unfortunately, a lot of misinformation too. The result? A lot of common myths that people believe about the heart, many surrounding your risk of heart problems or quality of life after a heart condition diagnosis. Fortunately, Ryan Gindi, M.D., a cardiologist for Henry Ford Health breaks down some of these falsities.

Myth 1: All heart conditions are genetic.

While some people can be genetically-predisposed to risk factors associated with heart problems (obesity, high blood pressure, etc.), often, environmental and lifestyle factors are the real cause for concern. Maybe you don’t eat as healthy as you should or used to be a smoker. These habits might seem small, but they can all contribute to your likelihood of developing heart issues at some point in your life.

Myth 2: Heart problems affect men more than women.

“While it is true that men tend to develop heart problems earlier in life compared to women, it seems to level off after women go through menopause,” says Dr. Gindi. There are many factors in a woman’s life that can contribute to an increased risk for heart disease such as endometriosis or high blood pressure and diabetes that can develop during pregnancy. Women also are more likely to ignore the symptoms of a heart attack compared to men. The biggest takeaway – men and women often experience heart problems differently. But the risk is equally there.

Myth 3: All cholesterol is bad for you.

There are two different types of cholesterol – high-density lipoprotein (HDLs) and low-density lipoprotein (LDLs). LDLs are considered “bad” cholesterol. “This is the type of cholesterol that you want to lower if you are a patient with a heart problem,” says Dr. Gindi. HDLs or “good” cholesterol can help your body to process bad cholesterol. You can increase the good cholesterol in your body by implementing lifestyle changes like exercising and eating healthy.

“Try to stay away from saturated and animal fats,” advises Dr. Gindi. “Instead, look towards other sources of healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, avocados and nuts to help lower your heart risk.”

Myth 4: Heart problems are only a concern if you are older.

Typically, your risk of heart problems does increases with age. Over time, your heart weakens because of stress, diet, your exercise level, etc. But this isn’t to say that younger people can’t have heart problems. “This is a major misconception people have,” says Dr. Gindi. “When you are younger, you need to take control of risk factors by monitoring your blood pressure and being aware of your heart health early on.” Many 20–30-year-olds who are genetically-predisposed for heart problems are at increased risk of a heart episode at a younger age.

Myth 5: Medication and surgery can fix heart problems for good.

“Medication and surgery are always only part of the solution,” says Dr. Gindi. “We like to look at heart treatment as a tripod approach – medication and intervention are one side, but diet and exercise make up the other two essential parts.” After you have a heart episode, you are at greater risk of another. As a result, your doctor will often prescribe medication to help. Over time, medication may not be enough to keep your heart healthy. That is when intervening with surgery may be necessary. But that doesn’t make the condition or risk you have go away. It is important that you change your lifestyle as part of your road to recovery.

Myth 6: You need to take it easy after a heart attack or heart diagnosis.

After a major heart attack, your heart does need a bit of a rest. But don’t make that an excuse to scale back on your health and wellness. “Long-term, we need you to actually exercise more after a heart attack,” says Dr. Gindi. “You’ll be enrolled in cardiac rehabilitation so you can learn how to exercise to reduce future events from occurring.” These exercises, monitoring your heart health and eating a healthy diet are all ways that you can reduce your risk over time.

Myth 7: Your quality of life takes a dip after a heart attack or heart condition diagnosis.

Having a heart condition is never the end of the line. While major lifestyle changes may be necessary to lower your risk of having a heart episode again, that doesn’t mean that you can’t go out and accomplish great things.

“We have had patients with significant heart attacks that are still highly active – some even complete in marathons and triathlons,” says Dr. Gindi. “We have progressed so much in our ability to treat these diseases meaning you don’t have to sacrifice your quality of life when you are diagnosed.”

Want to learn how healthy your heart is? Take our heart risk quiz to find out.

To find a cardiologist at Henry Ford, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-436-7936.

Dr. Ryan Gindi is a cardiologist who sees patients at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital and Henry Ford Medical Center – Bloomfield Township.

Categories: FeelWell

Tags: Ryan Gindi, Heart