With one in seven Americans dying from heart disease, it's important for each of us to peel back the curtain on some common misconceptions.
These five myths might surprise you. In fact, we asked a few women we know and more than 80% said they didn't know these facts. Are you part of the 80%? Don't be! Get informed and spread the word!
Myth #1: Cancer is the leading cause of death in women
FACT: Heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. The most common form of heart disease is Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) or clogged arteries, which can lead to heart failure, arrhythmia, or heart attacks. However, only half of women know that heart disease is our most common cause of death.1
Myth #2: The type of testing I get doesn't matter, as long as I find out whether CAD is causing my symptoms.
FACT: Because common CAD imaging tests can be less accurate in women, we often need more tests to reliably determine whether or not CAD is the true cause of our symptoms. This means more potential risks and complications like exposure to cancer-causing radiation. As an example, the radiation exposure you receive from one nuclear stress test (a common X-ray test for CAD) alone can be equivalent to 39 mammograms.2
MYTH #3: There is no way for my doctor to rule out CAD as the cause of my symptoms without some exposure to testing risks like radiation.
FACT: Your doctor can safely and accurately rule out CAD as the cause of your symptoms without the need for further testing (and any associated risks) through a sex-specific blood test that was designed with women in mind. Ask your doctor about safe testing options for women before you get tested. There is even a discussion guide you can use with your healthcare provider during your next visit.
MYTH #4: Coronary Artery Disease runs in my family, so there is nothing I can do to prevent it.
FACT: Although family history is a risk factor for CAD, certain lifestyle choices can greatly reduce your risk of developing CAD. According to the American Heart Association, you can help keep your heart healthy by tackling these preventative to-do’s: get active; control your cholesterol and blood sugar; eat better; manage your blood pressure; maintain a healthy weight; and stop smoking.3
MYTH #5: There isn’t a convenient place to find more information about CAD.
And, if you liked this post, don't forget to check out Part 1 of this post.
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1. Mosca L, Hammond G, Mochari-Greenberger H, et al. Fifteen-Year Trends in Awareness of Heart Disease in Women: Results of a 2012 American Heart Association National Survey. Circulation. 2013 Mar 19;127(11):1254-63, e1-29.
2. Fazel R, Krumholz HM, Wang Y, et al. Exposure to Low-Dose Ionizing Radiation From Medical Imaging Procedures. N Engl J Med. 2009;361:849-857.
3. American Heart Association. July 2015. Accessed June 2, 2015. (http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Top-10-Myths-about-Cardiovascular-Disease_UCM_430164_Article.jsp#.Vh76lniJndk)