True or False?
- The heart is a muscle.
- Many diseases and conditions can contribute to the risk of heart disease.
- A heart attack always begins with sharp chest pain.
- The best thing to do if you experience heart attack symptoms is to call 911 right away.
- Women need to worry more about breast cancer than about heart disease.
- Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your heart.
- If you have a family history of heart disease, your risk is exactly the same.
- Air pollution harms the heart.
- As we grow older, it’s best to rest our hearts as much as possible.
- Even a person who has experienced a heart attack should exercise.
- It’s possible to eat a “heart smart” diet even if you dine out often.
- Emotional stress and anxiety can worsen a heart condition.
Answers to “Heart Health Quiz”
1. The heart is a muscle.
TRUE—The heart is the hardest working muscle in the body, pumping enough blood in your lifetime to fill a supertanker!
2. Many diseases and conditions can contribute to the risk of heart disease.
TRUE—A number of conditions, including hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol and diabetes, increase the risk of heart disease.
3. A heart attack always begins with sharp chest pain.
FALSE—A heart attack can begin slowly, with subtle signals. Symptoms can include:
- a feeling of pressure or discomfort in the chest
- discomfort in the arms, neck, back, jaw or stomach
- shortness of breath
- nausea, dizziness, sweating for no reason
4. The best thing to do if you experience heart attack symptoms is to call 911 right away.
TRUE—”Better safe than sorry” is so true when it comes to heart attack. Excellent treatment is now available, and the sooner it begins, the better the chance of saving the patient’s life and preventing disability. If you experience chest pain, especially if associated with any other of the signs listed above, call 911 right away. Acting quickly can save your life.
5. Women need to worry more about breast cancer than about heart disease.
FALSE—Women are far more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than from breast cancer. It is a myth that heart disease is primarily a men’s health problem. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women—and more women than men die within one year of a heart attack.
6. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your heart.
TRUE—Smoking is one of the top risk factors for heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smokers are up to four times more likely to develop heart disease. And even if you don’t smoke, exposure to secondhand smoke may raise your risk by up to 30%.
7. If you have a family history of heart disease, you have exactly the same risk yourself.
FALSE—Although your risk increases if a family member was diagnosed with heart disease, it’s not all in the genes! A healthy lifestyle can cut your risk. Obesity and inactivity are greater risk factors than genetic inheritance for most people. Here’s what you can do to lower the risk:
- If you smoke, quit.
- Take steps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol level.
- Increase physical activity.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- If you are diabetic, follow your care plan.
8. Air pollution harms the heart.
TRUE—Exposure to dirty air can increase inflammation, blood sugar levels, cholesterol and blood pressure, all of which have a negative effect on cardiac health.
9. As we grow older, it’s best to rest our hearts as much as possible.
FALSE—The older you are, the more important regular physical exercise is to your well-being. Inactivity can lead to a downward spiral of decline. Ask your healthcare provider about an exercise program that’s right for you.
10. Even a person who has experienced a heart attack should exercise.
TRUE—For most patients, preventing another heart attack will include a cardiac rehabilitation program. Be sure you discuss your workout regimen with your healthcare provider and follow their instructions.
11. It’s possible to eat a “heart smart” diet even if you dine out often.
TRUE—Most menus feature at least a few low-fat, low-cholesterol, low-sodium items. Avoid fried foods, instead selecting baked or broiled. (If you aren’t sure how a dish is prepared, ask your server.) Skip dessert, and order your salad with low-fat dressing served on the side.
12. Emotional stress and anxiety can worsen a heart condition.
TRUE—Stressful emotions can raise your blood pressure, causing your heart to work harder. Lifestyle changes and relaxation techniques help lessen the effects of stress.
This article is not intended to replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Ask your doctor if you have questions about heart health or heart disease.