Cardiovascular diseases make up several of the top ten leading causes of death in the United States — with heart disease at the number one spot. But heart disease isn’t the only threat to your cardiovascular system. There are many types of cardiovascular diseases, each with its own risk factors.
The term “cardiac disease” refers to health conditions involving the heart and circulatory system. These include heart attacks, strokes, aortic aneurysms (and other aortic conditions), peripheral arterial diseases, and other less common conditions.
We usually talk about cardiovascular disease with high cholesterol and hypertension, but some cardiac diseases have a strong genetic component, too. Conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity are all major contributors to cardiovascular conditions.
The best way to prepare for a potential cardiac condition is to understand your risk factors. Because we can never fully predict who will develop a cardiac disease, there’s a lot of misinformation surrounding inherited cardiac diseases. To set the record straight, here are five common myths about inherited cardiac diseases:
- Myth: Men are much more at risk for cardiac diseases.
Truth: Men are likely to develop cardiac diseases earlier than women, but that doesn’t mean women shouldn’t be concerned with their heart health. In fact, heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States.
- Myth: If I have a family history of cardiac diseases, I’m doomed.
Truth: A family history of cardiac diseases isn’t a death sentence! You can still reduce your risk of developing cardiac diseases by maintaining a healthy blood pressure, staying active, and eating healthy foods. If you do have a family history of cardiac diseases, it’s wise to check in with a cardiac specialist for an occasional check-up.
- Myth: I can always feel it when I have high blood pressure.
Truth: Hypertension (high blood pressure) is considered a “silent killer,” since many people don’t know they have it until it’s out of control. Many cases of high blood pressure have no symptoms at all, which means you should regularly check your blood pressure if you already have hypertension, or if you have risk factors such as smoking, obesity, and diabetes.
- Myth: I’ve got a cardiac disease, so I shouldn’t be exercising.
Truth: Exercise is always a good way to prevent cardiac diseases! If you’ve already experienced heart strain from cardiac disease, ask your doctor what exercises are right for you. High-intensity weightlifting might not be wise for someone who has had a heart attack, but low-intensity aerobic exercise can go a long way in preventing more serious cardiac problems.
- Myth: Diabetes doesn’t lead to cardiac diseases.
Truth: Many people associate diabetes with other diseases, like nerve damage and kidney disease. But cardiac disease has a higher likelihood among people with diabetes, which is why it’s important to keep track of your heart health if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes. Even if you’re taking diabetes medication, you can still carry risk factors for cardiac diseases.
With all these misunderstandings surrounding inherited cardiac diseases, it’s important to maintain awareness when it comes to prevention. Preventing cardiac disease is much more likely with the right habits. Even though there’s a chance a perfectly healthy person could be struck by an inherited cardiac disease, it’s much more likely that your diet and exercise can contribute to your risk level.
As a rule of thumb, exercising, quitting smoking, and eating a healthy diet are the magic trio for reducing the risk of cardiac diseases — even inherited ones. If you suspect you’re at risk for cardiac disease, contact us today at Tri-City Cardiology. Schedule an appointment with one of our hospital-affiliated cardiologists and cardiovascular specialists, and keep track of your heart health as you age.