Part 1 of 4 – Heart Health Myths and Real Facts by ICC’s Dr. Harshad Sanghvi, Medical Director, ICC Lifestyle Program
As part of our “Health and Wellness Awareness – Education with a purpose” series, we plan to publish 2 Heart Health Myths and real facts every Friday during the month of February.
We hope you will read and reflect on the facts surrounding heart disease and more importantly, act on improving your heart health.
Since it is Friday February 3rd, we are publishing two Heart Health Myths below.
Myth#1 – Heart Disease Is a Man’s Problem.
Fact: One of the biggest misconceptions about heart disease is that it only or predominantly affects men, but heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. While many women may think their greatest health risk is breast cancer, more women die from heart disease each year than from all types of cancer combined.
Women have a lower risk of heart disease at early age compared to men because estrogen hormone protects them against developing blockages of the arteries.That advantage is lost after menopause, so they catch up very fast with men after age of 65 and have even higher risk than men at old age. Women do have atypical and unusual presentations of heart disease making it more difficult to diagnose unless we keep a high level of suspicion.
Heart disease: Men vs. women
Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease. By retirement age, 70% of men and women have cardiovascular disease, which includes coronary artery disease, heart failure, stroke, and hypertension. Risk continues to rise, and by age 80, 83% of men and an even higher percentage of women—87%—are affected.
Myth#2 – Chest pain is the only warning sign of a heart attack.
Fact: Although it’s true that chest discomfort is often a sign of a heart attack, there are more subtle symptoms of a heart attack that can occur without any chest pain, pressure, tightness or heaviness. You may experience pain or discomfort limited to only the left arm, both arms, neck, jaw, center of the back, across the shoulder blades, or in the stomach area. You may have no discomfort anywhere, and may get only unexplained shortness of breath, profuse sweating, nausea, or indigestion.
Women are more likely to have atypical symptoms that can be easily ignored for noncardiac illnesses such as severe unexplained fatigue or weakness, shortness of breath, unusual sweating, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, and sudden dizziness. Almost half of all women who have heart attacks had none of the typical symptoms that men have. What is worse is 64% of the women who die suddenly of heart disease have no symptoms. So, we should exercise a higher level of suspicion for heart symptoms in women and diabetics.
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ICC as a consortium partner of South Asian Heart Center is offering a proven program with documented results to South Asians in New England area. Over 128 community members from New England area have already joined the program and have benefited from it. South Asian Heart Center has been offering this program for the past 12 years and the evidence they have collected makes it clear that besides medical care, these risks and conditions can be improved by Lifestyle changes. To be effective these programs need to be culturally tailored, evidence-based and sustainable. To learn more about this program, benefits and participants testimonials, please visit – https://ouricc.org/lifestyle-program/