It’s normal to wonder if your heart is ticking just right. Sometimes you may think it beats too slowly. Or you might worry its racing too fast. The truth is, there’s a lot you’ve heard about your pulse that’s flat out wrong. It’s time to set the record straight.
Myth 1: A normal heart rate is 60-100 beats per minute
That’s the old standard. As per latest research on subject about 50-70 beats per minute is ideal.
Recent studies suggest a heart rate higher than 80 beats per minute when you’re resting may be linked to a higher risk of heart attack.
The better shape you’re in, the slower your heart rate will be when you’re not moving around.
Myth 2: An erratic heart rate means I’m having a heart attack.
When your heart beats in an irregular pattern, you’re having what’s called palpitations. You may feel as if it skipped a beat or speeds up. Or it may seem like a brief flutter or a pounding in your chest.
Having an irregular heartbeat doesn’t mean you’re having a heart attack
Myth 3: If my pulse is fast, it always means I’m stressed out.
Stress is just one thing that can raise your pulse. Your heart rate may also speed up when you exercise, get excited, or feel anxious or sad.
When you stand up, your pulse may go up for 15 to 20 seconds before it goes back to normal. Even the weather, like high temperatures or humidity, can raise it.
Myth 4: If you have heart disease, you need to take it easy.
“For the vast majority of people with heart disease, avoiding physical activity is a bad idea. It can lead to blood clots in the legs and a decline in overall physical condition. Physical activity helps strengthen the heart muscle, improves blood flow to the brain and internal organs, and improves overall health and well-being.
What you can do: Ask doctor what kind of exercise would be right for you, and how much you should do. Most people can walk, and any amount of walking is good for your heart.
Myth 5: If you take a cholesterol-lowering drug, you can eat anything.
Cholesterol in the bloodstream comes from two sources—your liver makes some, and you get some from certain foods. CLD’s can reduce the amount of cholesterol made by the liver. This causes blood levels of cholesterol to drop, which, in turn, reduces the amount of cholesterol deposited in your arteries. If you take a CLD’s and continue to eat foods that are high in cholesterol plus saturated fat, the drug will not be as effective, and your cholesterol level will not fall, and may even rise.
What you can do: Limit your cholesterol and saturated fat intake, so your CLD’scan do their job.
Myth 6: It’s okay to have higher blood pressure when you’re older.
Blood pressure tends to rise with age, but the fact that this trend is “normal” doesn’t mean that it is good for you. It happens because artery walls become stiff with age. Stiff arteries force the heart to pump harder. This sets up a vicious cycle. Blood pounding against the artery walls damages them over time. The overworked heart muscle becomes less effective and pumps harder to meet the body’s demands for blood. This further damages the arteries and invites fat into the artery walls. This is how high blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
What you can do: Have your blood pressure checked. If it’s above 140/90 millimetres of mercury, ask your doctor what you can do to bring it down.
Myth 7: Diabetes won’t cause heart disease if you take diabetes medication.
Diabetes medication helps lower blood sugar levels. Maintaining normal blood sugar levels is important for preventing complications that affect the smaller blood vessels (micro vascular complications), such as kidney disease, loss of vision, erectile dysfunction, and nerve damage.
But blood sugar Medication has less effect on the large blood vessels that become inflamed and diseased, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
What you can do: Take your diabetes medication to prevent microvascular complications. Also do everything you can to lower high cholesterol and high blood pressure, stop smoking and drop extra weight. These measures will reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Myth 8: You can lower your risk of heart disease with vitamins and supplements.
The antioxidant vitamins E, C, and beta carotene factor into lowering heart disease risk. However, clinical trials of supplementation with these vitamins have either failed to confirm benefit or were conducted in such a way that no conclusion could be drawn. The American Heart Association has stated that there is no scientific evidence to justify using these vitamins to prevent or treat cardiovascular disease.
What you can do: For reasons not yet understood, the body absorbs and utilizes vitamins and minerals best when they are acquired through foods. To ensure you get the vitamins and minerals you need, skip store-bought supplements and eat a wide variety of nutritious foods of every colour of the rainbow.
Myth 9: If you have smoked for years, you can’t reduce your risk of heart disease by quitting.
The benefits of quitting smoking start the minute you quit, no matter your age, how long you have smoked, or how many cigarettes a day you have smoked. Only one year after quitting, your heart attack risk will have dropped by 50%; in 10 years, it will be the same as if you never smoked.
What you can do: Seek help to quit smoking. Many people require stop-smoking aids, such as nicotine patches, nicotine gum, or a stop-smoking medication, to be successful.
Myth 10: Heart disease is really a man’s problem.
Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women over age 65, just as it’s the leading killer of men.
What you can do: Whether you are a man or a woman, ask your doctor to conduct a baseline heart examination that includes checking your cholesterol and blood pressure. Then follow your doctor’s recommendations.
Heart disease: Men vs. women
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 11: If you have heart disease, you should eat as little fatsas possible.
It’s true you should eat a diet low in saturated fat, partially hydrogenated fat, and trans fat. But other fats, notably the unsaturated fats in vegetable oils and other foods, are beneficial. In fact, eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, twice a week can lower the risk of heart disease.
What you can do: Include low-fat dairy products, fatty fishes, nuts, and olive oil in your diet. If you eat meat, make sure the cuts are lean, and remove the skin from your poultry.
Myth 12: A small heart attack is no big deal.
“A small heart attack isn’t a big deal in terms of how well your heart can function. It may even pass unnoticed. But it’s a huge warning sign that you have serious heart disease, and your next heart attack may kill you
What you can do: Minimize your risk of heart attack by keeping your weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure in a normal range, not smoking, and seeing your doctor regularly to make sure no risk factors are elevated.
Myth 13: Angioplasty and stenting can “fix” your heart.
Angioplasty and stenting can do wonders for relieving chest pain (angina) and improving quality of life. But they don’t stop the underlying disease—atherosclerosis. Without correcting the problems that contribute to atherosclerosis, arteries will continue to become clogged with fatty plaque, which may mean the return of angina or worse—a heart attack or stroke.
What you can do: After undergoing angioplasty or bypass surgery, it’s important to correct the problems that led to the need for the procedure, such as high cholesterol or blood pressure, a poor diet, smoking, or lack of exercise.
MYTH 14: Bypass surgery is very painful and takes long to recover
With the present day medications, technology and anesthesia, bypass surgery has really become almost painless. In few selected patients, a special pain catheter is inserted in their back which makes the surgery totally painless. Most of the patients are on their foot on day 1 after surgery and are out of hospital in 7 days time. Most of the patients can go back and join work within a month’s time. If bypass is done through a small key-hole cut, patient can even join back work in 2 weeks time.
MYTH 15: Bypass surgery is very risky in Diabetic patients
Patients with blocked arteries also have diabetes. You will be surprised to know that bypass surgery is the most preferred therapy for diabetic patients. In all the scientific data, its very well established that bypass surgery gives a very long lasting result up to 25 years in diabetes patients. Bypass surgery is also much more superior over stenting or angioplasty.
MYTH 16: Bypass surgery operation fails after some time
With good lifestyle control, regular medications, a present day bypass operation usually lasts for at least 15 to 20 years. Some of the patients even celebrated their golden jubilee following bypass operation. In diabetic patients, however the disease process may progress faster and for this reason a very good diabetic control is mandatory.
MYTH 17: Exercise is restricted after bypass operation
Usual patients can perform all types of passive limb exercises after a month’s time. Passive yoga is very helpful for all types of bypass surgery patients. However, active treadmill should be avoided for at least 3 months after a bypass operation and to consult the surgeon or the cardiologist before starting treadmill exercise.