Skip to content

Heart Health Center

Font Size

6 Risky Heart Health Myths

Believing these myths could put your cardiovascular health in danger.

Heart Myth #3: Younger Women Aren't at Risk

"I think one of the most common myths is that women still tend to think they are not vulnerable" to heart disease, Mieres says. "They think it is a disease of older women and men. So women in their 40s and 50s still believe they are safe."

But heart disease is the No. 1 killer of U.S. women, causing more than 460,000 deaths annually, not all of which are among the elderly.        

Risk factors that contribute to heart disease -- including obesity, Type II diabetes, and hypertension -- are showing up earlier now in women, Mieres says. As these factors become more common at a younger age, heart disease may follow.    

On average, there tends to be a 10-year gap in the age at which heart attacks occur in men and women, says Rita Redberg, MD, professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco and director of women’s cardiovascular services. Men are more likely to get them in their mid-50s and women in their mid-60s.      

This age difference could be due, in part, to estrogen. Jackson says estrogen has a complex role in the prevention of heart disease, but exactly how it works isn't clear.

Heart Myth #4: Exercise is too risky if you have heart disease.

This is almost always false.

After a coronary event, such as a heart attack, people are typically encouraged to get right into rehabilitation and start working out within a two-week period.

"There are really very few people who have significant long-term restrictions in terms of never doing exercise," Jackson says.

Redberg says exercise reduces the progression of heart disease, and makes people with heart disease less likely to have a first or recurrent heart attack.

She recommends starting with 10 minutes of exercise daily and increasing it weekly by 10 minutes until they are getting at least 30 minutes of moderate activity most days. But your doctor should give you guidelines tailored to your particular case.

Today on WebMD

hdl letters stacked up
How to boost your ‘good’ cholesterol.
Learn the causes.
Compressed heart
5 habits to change.
heart rate
What’s normal? What’s not?
Lower Cholesterol 02
Heart Foods Slideshow
Compressed heart
doctor looking at xrays
Heart Disease And Ed
Lowering Cholesterol Slideshow
lowering blood pressure
Wide Awake For Heart Surgery

WebMD Special Sections