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6 Risky Heart Health Myths

Believing these myths could put your cardiovascular health in danger.

Heart Myth #5: Aspirin and Omega-3 fatty Acids Are All Good

Most people have heard that aspirin and omega-3 fatty acids are good deterrents to heart disease. For the most part, this is true, but there are some caveats to their protective benefits.

Redberg recommends taking aspirin for prevention at age 50 for men and 65 for women if there are no contraindications.

Aspirin can exacerbate stomach problems and some people can have aspirin allergies. Every supplement and medication has pros and cons, Jackson says. A young woman’s risk of excessive bleeding from taking aspirin may be greater than its potential heart benefits, Jackson says.

Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly beneficial for people who have already had a heart issue and are trying to prevent another, Jackson says. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating fatty fish at least twice a week or taking up to three grams of omega-3 fatty acids in the form of a daily supplement. The AHA cautions that higher doses can cause excessive bleeding in some people.

Aspirin and omega-3 fatty acids both can cut the risk of blood clots, such as those that lead to heart attacks. But you don't want to curb your clotting ability too much, or you could be at risk of excessive bleeding.

Talk with your doctor before taking any kind of medication or supplement. And if you're already taking something, tell your doctor. Your doctor needs to note it in your medical records and may advise you to stop if you have surgery scheduled.

Heart Health Myth #6: Once I Have Heart Disease, That's It

Absolutely not. There has been research showing that in some cases you may be able to undo the damage -- and that your lifestyle is a crucial part of turning the tide.

Exercising, eating a healthy diet containing fruits and vegetables, limiting processed foods, not smoking, and avoiding second-hand smoke can go a long way toward heart disease prevention.

"It is never too late" to treat heart disease, Mieres says. "Small lifestyle changes are key factors in preventing heart disease and controlling risk factors."

Reviewed on January 24, 2011

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