Heart and circulatory disease will affect all of us in some form – but many people don’t know the facts. We debunk seven of the most common and persistent myths around heart disease. How many do you know?
1. Taking statins will have damaging side effects
BHF-funded research has provided very strong and clear evidence that statins reduce the risk of someone dying from or being debilitated by a heart attack or stroke. Statins are among the safest and the most studied medications available today.
But, like all medication, they have potential side effects. The most common are muscular aches and pains, but most people experience none at all. Serious side effects are rare.
If you are prescribed a statin, you need to take it every day. Statins are most beneficial when you take them on a long-term basis. If you experience side effects, or if your side effects change or become worse, tell your GP.
2. Cardiac arrest and heart attack are the same thing
A heart attack is not the same as a cardiac arrest.
A heart attack occurs when one of the coronary arteries becomes blocked. Because of the blockage, the heart muscle can’t get its vital blood supply and will begin to die because it is not getting enough oxygen, if left untreated. The person will probably be conscious – you should call 999 and keep them calm.
A cardiac arrest is when a person’s heart stops pumping blood around their body and they stop breathing normally. The person will be unconscious – you should call 999 and start CPR.
Many cardiac arrests in adults happen because of a heart attack. This is because a person who is having a heart attack may develop a dangerous heart rhythm, which can cause a cardiac arrest.
A heart attack and a cardiac arrest are both emergency situations. Call 999 immediately if you or someone else seems to be having one.Infographic showing the difference between heart attack and cardiac arrest
3. Heart disease is preventable and caused by a poor lifestyle, so slim and active people are protected
This could be due to genetic factors, (for example, inherited heart conditions). But there are other factors that cause heart disease which still remain unclear, highlighting the need for more research in this area.
4. Coughing vigorously during a heart attack could save your life
There is no medical evidence to support ‘cough CPR’, which suggests you can help yourself by coughing vigorously if you think you’re having a heart attack and are alone.
This article is reproduced courtesy of British Heart Foundation’s Heart Matters magazine – read more at bhf.org.uk/heartmattersmag