When it comes to diseases and illnesses plenty of rumors, myths, and speculations are all too common. Therefore heart disease, especially heart disease in women, has its own myriad of myths that when carefully scrutinized turn out untrue. Misinformation can be just as harmful and detrimental as having no information at all. Certain aspects that have made it difficult for heart disease in women to be taken seriously include, but are not limited to: invalid and ambivalent messages emanating from the media in regards to heart disease in women, which only fuels the overall general public assumption that heart disease in women shouldn’t be taken or isn’t as serious or life-threatening as heart disease in men.
While this is embarrassingly false, it unfortunately promotes misinformation that is then reflected in public perception and treatment of heart disease in women. That is why being more knowledgeable of a disease or illness is the first step toward making well-informed health decisions, while blocking out everyone else’s ignorance. It also helps forge a collaborative relationship between patient and doctor as both parties are able to make important decisions on what steps to take in terms of treatment and care. But perhaps sharing the gift of knowledge with others is just as important as knowing it yourself. Therefore, below is a list of several misconceptions regarding heart disease in women and their ratified responses.
Myth number one: Men can only get heart disease and women can only get breast cancer right? WRONG. This myth has unfortunately divided public opinions and is one of the leading causes as to why heart disease isn’t taken seriously in women. However, based on fact only one in 31 American women die due to breast cancer each year. Whereas one in three American women die due to heart disease, making heart disease the number one killer of women in the United States.
Myth number two: Estrogen protects women from heart attacks. This is simply an empty statement. In no way, shape, or form can estrogen protect women from heart attacks or other adverse cardiovascular events. However, the loss of natural estrogen can lead to an increase of the risk of a heart attack as women age.
Myth number three: Women aren’t risk for a heart attack prior to menopause. This myth is simply untrue due to the statistical evidence that shows women ages 25 to 44 years old share heart disease as the most common cause of death.
Myth number four: Both men and women receive the same treatment for heart disease. In any case, any patient who is rushed into the ER exhibiting heart attack symptoms should have an electrocardiogram (EKG) within 10 minutes upon arrival. However, this is not the case as men exhibiting heart attack symptoms take precedence and receive an EKG by a cardiologist over women.
Myth number five: Current research in the field of heart disease takes both men and women in equal consideration. This statement is untrue as per the Society for Cardiac Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) numbers, women make up less than 25 percent of the participants in most clinical trials on heart disease.
It important to keep these myths in mind when discussing heart disease with friends, family, or your doctor. Do not allow fact less statements get in the way of your health.