Heart-health: Know your facts from the myths


Your heart will skip a beat as you read this: 30% of all health fatalities in the UAE are related to cardiovascular diseases, a figure highlighted by the World Health Organization. That number is frighteningly on the rise, not just among an older population, but a younger generation…from 25 years of age and upwards!

We already live in a stressed world, where the trappings of success and the mad rush to be a go-getter at work or on the social scene is prized, often at the cost of your health, not to mention mounting stress levels. The UAE is no exception to this rule, given the increasing rates of heart disease and risk factors that contribute to it, such as leading an inactive lifestyle, poor eating schedules driven by equally poor dietary choices. The result? Rising obesity with clogged arteries that trigger and cause heart attacks, strokes, and other fatal cardiovascular disorders.

Reports show that heart failure among the UAE population is higher than the global average which is an alarming cause for concern. Chronic diseases such as hypertension brought about by sheer force of bad habits in lifestyle choices, continue to cause obesity and diabetes, both of which are also higher than the global average.

The World Heart Federation reveals that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the GCC and MENA region, and is responsible for more than one-third of all deaths, which comes down to 1.4 million people, every year. Perhaps the biggest concern is the sudden rise of coronary heart diseases occurring about 10 to 15 years earlier in the UAE, compared to the Western world.

A bit more about your beating heart.

We sometimes ignore the fact that your heart is like a workhorse engine in top performance that beats inside you at a steady rhythm between 60 to 100 times, a minute. When you think of it, that translates to about 100,000 times a day!

So, imagine when your heart gets out of rhythm, in what your doctor would diagnose as an arrhythmia or an irregular or abnormal heartbeat which could either be slow or fast.

While this fact is a great piece of learning, there seems to be a lot of myths about heart health that’s been doing the rounds. Our team of cardiologists at HealthHub Clinics sets the record straight about what is factual and what is myth.

5 myths & facts you need to about your heart:

Fact: Heart disease no longer just affects older people.

You may think of heart disease as something that only affects people in their sixties or seventies. Studies however show that 20% of people who have a heart attack are below the age of 40, a staggering and shocking ate that has risen 2% every year over 10 years.

Medical records indicate that Type-2 diabetes is rising among younger adults due to a more sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity. What’s more, 35.7% of young adults from 20 to 39 years are obese, stemming often from childhood, making it even more important to establish heart-healthy habits early on. Those with a family history of heart disease are at greater risk.

Fact: Heart disease also affects women.

Think again, heart attacks are common among women!

In fact, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.

One reason for the lack of awareness is that the symptoms of a female heart attack are not so well-known. It’s a misnomer to think that a heart attack can be indicated by severe chest pain causes and even pain down the arm, typical for men. For women, the signs of a heart attack are barely noticed or ignored from shortness of breath and nausea or vomiting to back pain or jaw pain. So, it’s critical to continue to spread awareness not only of the prevalence of heart disease in women, but also the unique warning signs.

What’s also true is that women’s health is not given the attention they deserve, usually the outcome of juggling a million tasks all at once. You can read about this on our feature about women’s health.

Fact: There are other factors that cause it.

Contrary to popular belief, stress isn’t the only thing that can raise your pulse. Your heart rate could speed up when you work out, get excited, or feel anxious or sad.

Even when you stand up, your pulse might rise for up to 20 seconds before swinging back to to normal. External factors such as extreme heat or sudden cold can affect you causing a spike in your pulse beats.

While taking medicines for your thyroid, especially hypothyroidism, a fast pulse may indicate you might be taking more than the required dosage.

Fact: They are not necessarily connected.

Sometimes your heart rate and blood pressure seem to be in sync with each other. Extreme emotional states or mood swings like fear, shock or anger may cause your heart rate to spike.

Then again remember this: even if your heart rate is normal, your blood pressure may not be. It could be too high or too low, and you may not even notice this. Don’t leave anything to chance, even if you feel your heart rate seems fine, it’s important to stick to your schedule of visiting your doctor to check your blood pressure regularly.

Fact: Wrong. It could be a healthy sign.

Among heart failure symptoms, a slow beating heart can be a sign that you’re healthy and fit. An athlete’s heart muscle is in better shape, so it doesn’t have to work as hard to keep up a steady beat. You need to worry about slow rates when you start exhibiting symptoms like passing out, feeling dizzy, experiencing shortness of breath, or complain of tightness or numbness in the chest.

Remember: 80% of heart disease is preventable.

Talk to our team of endocrinologists and cardiologists at HealthHub Clinics without delay. Remember, ignoring it and postponing any suspicious symptoms you may have, only increases the risk of a sudden stroke or heart attack. Our team of physicians and nutritionists can draw up a customised health plan that will put you back to health…and on a healthy lifestyle with a healthy heart!

To know more or to book an appointment, call 8002344 today at HealthHub Clinics.

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Article reviewed by:

Dr Ahmad Amanat

Specialist Cardiologist, HealthHub Clinics by Al-Futtaim


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