See the questions and answers below to see how much you really know about how to strengthen your heart!
1. Your heart stops beating when a heart attack happens.
False — During a heart attack, the heart is almost always still beating but the blood supply to it is blocked. As a result, it doesn’t get enough oxygen, which can injure the heart. When your heart suddenly stops beating, it’s called “cardiac arrest.”
2. Jaw or back pain could be a sign of a heart attack.
True — Although the most common sign of a heart attack is chest pain or discomfort, it’s not always one of the symptoms. You might have shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, or feel lightheaded. Sometimes women especially could have pain or discomfort in other parts of the body, like the back or jaw.
3. Your heart needs one straight hour of exercise every day.
False — Physical activity is key, but you don’t have to carve out a solid hour daily to do it. Get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity (like gardening, walking, yoga, or a leisurely bike ride) at least 5 days a week. Or you can do at least 25 minutes of more robust activity (like running or swimming) 3 days a week. You can even break it up into 10 or 15 minute intervals if that is easier with your schedule.
4. Fiber can lower your cholesterol.
True — It lowers your “bad” cholesterol and may help prevent heart disease. Fiber comes from plants: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans. It is usually best to get it from foods, which have many other great nutrients, instead of from supplements.
5. You get high cholesterol only from what you eat.
False — Many things affect your cholesterol level including your genes. That said, you still have a lot of control, especially with your food choices. Limit items with too much cholesterol or saturated fats and avoid trans fats completely. To do that, cut back on fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and deep-fried and processed foods.
6. Cut out the salt for your heart’s sake.
True — Too much salt is linked to high blood pressure, as well as heart disease and stroke. Remember, a lot of sodium comes from processed foods and foods in restaurants. Read labels to see how much sodium is in a serving.
7. Low-dose aspirin can help you avoid another heart attack.
True — The American Heart Association recommends a daily low-dose aspirin for people who are at high risk of a heart attack or who have already had a heart attack or stroke. However, ask your doctor about the pros and cons before starting an aspirin regimen to make sure it is right for you.
8. Eat only fat-free foods to protect your heart.
False — Fat-free was once a big food trend, but now the main thing is to favor fats that are better for your heart (like canola or olive oils) over those that clog your arteries. Also, foods that are labeled “fat-free” can still have lots of salt or sugar. Too much of that is bad for your heart as well. Always keep moderation in mind.
9. Being obese is the biggest risk factor for heart disease.
False — While being obese is certainly a large risk for heart disease, lack of activity may be the worst thing you can do for your heart. According to a CDC report, 40% of Americans are at risk for heart disease because they’re inactive while 34% are at risk due to obesity. The other most important risk factors are uncontrolled high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking.
10. Heart disease kills more women than breast cancer.
True — Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States, killing more women than all forms of cancer combined. One in three women die of heart disease, while one in 31 die of breast cancer.
11. To lower chances of heart disease, even non-drinkers should drink red wine.
False — While it is true that many recent studies have suggested that red wine may lower the risk of getting heart disease, don’t start drinking for that benefit alone as there are other negative side effects of alcohol. However, if you already drink, the American Heart Association suggests no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women.
12. Eat fish at least twice a week for a healthy heart.
True — The American Heart Association recommends eating fish — especially fish like salmon and mackerel — at least two times each week. Fish is a great source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, plus it’s low in unhealthy saturated fat. If you don’t like fish, talk to your doctor about taking omega 3 supplements.
13. As you get older, you don’t need as much sleep to maintain heart health.
False — Getting a good night’s sleep is critical for everyone. However, most experts say that seniors should sleep between seven and nine hours each night. Quality sleep helps with brain and immune functionality as well as metabolism which are all important for a healthy heart.
14. Seniors should get at least two servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
False — Seniors should get at least five servings each day of fruits and vegetables. They’re low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals and fiber.
15. Seniors should avoid dairy.
False — Dairy or milk-like products provide essential Vitamin D necessary for heart health. However, you should try to consume fat-free or low-fat milk and cheese, or rice or almond milk that is fortified with Vitamin D and calcium.
So now that you are an expert, take advantage of some of the important and fun activities that the American Heart Association has planned for this month.