Here’s the deal: 1 out of every 5 Americans has some form of heart disease. But literally MILLIONS of cases could be prevented if people had the right information. That’s the scoop from Dr. Barry L. Zaret from Yale University School of Medicine – and one of the country’s leading specialists in cardiovascular health. He says there are some common misconceptions that contribute to unnecessary death from heart disease. Here they are, courtesy of Bottom Line Health.
- High cholesterol is the main risk factor for a heart attack. Here’s the truth: While high cholesterol DOES increase risk, recent studies suggest that high levels of CRP – a protein that circulates in the bloodstream – has an even stronger link. We all have a little CRP coursing through our veins, but high levels can indicate inflammation caused by an underlying infection, which can damage the linings of the blood vessels. So, have your doctor give you a CRP test. Even if your cholesterol levels are NORMAL, you can still be at risk for a heart attack if you have too much CRP.
- The greatest danger of smoking is lung cancer. Of course lung cancer is a concern for smokers, but the risk of cardiovascular disease is actually HIGHER. Of the 440-thousand premature deaths caused each year by smoking, the majority are due to heart disease. That’s because smoking increases levels of carbon monoxide in the blood, which damages artery linings and can cause blood clotting. But here’s the good news. If you quit smoking, within 15 years you’ll have almost the same risk for heart disease as someone who NEVER smoked.
- Reports that say chocolate is good for your heart are all hype. NOT SO! The cocoa beans used to make chocolate are extremely rich in flavonoids - plant compounds that lower blood pressure. Experts recommend 1 or 2 small squares of dark chocolate every day to help ward off heart disease. YAY!