Fact vs. fiction in heart health


TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – It’s National Heart Health Awareness month and we’re bringing you the real facts.

Heart attack, stroke and other heart conditions kill about half a million women each year in the United States. That’s twice as many deaths as all types of cancer combined.

Misconceptions stubbornly linger about the danger of heart disease. So we decided to weigh fact versus fiction, and correct some of those myths surrounding this preventable disease.”

We spoke to cardiovascular service director Judy Smith at Terre Haute Regional Hospital.

VIDEO | Extended interview with Judy Smith

She was able to quell those old wives tales about heart conditions.

Fiction – Men are more at risk than women for developing heart disease.
Fact – “Typically, that’s not true. We all think men are the ones who have the heart attacks. But women are as susceptible as men. In fact, heart disease is the number one killer of women,” said Smith.

Fiction – The symptoms of heart disease are the same for men and women.
Fact – “Girls present with lots of different symptoms. TV, and things you read, oftentimes think it’s a crushing type chest pain. Sometimes that is true, but a lot of times with women, it can be something as simple as jaw pain. I’ve had ladies with ear pain. Throat sometimes. Sometimes, it’s even as subtle as being very, very tired,” said Smith.

Fiction – The likelihood of death from a heart attack is greater for men than for women.
Fact – “Sometimes the survival for ladies is not as good as men. Unsure of whether women don’t seek treatment as quickly as men because of the myth we don’t have heart disease. Girls also have smaller vessels than men, which makes a difference too. I think all of those things together,” said Smith.

Fiction – You can’t find out you have heart disease until it’s too late to do much about it.
Fact – “If we have a symptom that’s altering our lifestyle and we go get it checked out, we can prevent any damage to the heart. There’s lots of testing physicians can do to find out if there is possible heart disease going on,” said Smith.

Bottom line – heart disease can affect young and old, weak and strong…no one is exempt.

The best cure is prevention.

There are tests you can take to see if you have possibility of heart disease. Head to the American Heart network’s website.

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