The worst heart health mistakes so many of us make leave me wondering if we’ll ever learn…
Even after more than 3 decades of treating cardiac patients, I’m still surprised by how much even the basics change. Research is a wonderful thing, but sometimes we just want someone to explain things the easy way.
And, as it turns out, we all still have much to learn about the king of all organs, the heart, and how to keep it healthy and strong.
The renowned Cleveland Clinic recently conducted research involving 1,009 adults (487 men and 522 women) living in the United States.
The people were asked questions to understand their views and to learn about their heart-healthy habits.
➡ While some people were well-informed, far too many were missing even the most basic knowledge required to avoid or manage heart disease. And, sadly, most were making many of the worst heart health mistakes, and for the wrong reasons.
Based on their findings, the researchers compiled a list of healthy recommendations we should all be following.
Here are the worst heart health mistakes so many of us make:
1. We don’t know how much exercise our body needs.
How many minutes a week do you exercise?
Many of us work out at least 30 minutes a week, which is a start. However, the experts recommend moderate aerobic exercise for at least 2.5 hours each week.
➡ Only 20% percent of Americans are even aware of this, and a full 40% are getting much less exercise than they need to keep that big muscle, the heart, working as it should.
2. We let life get in the way of regular exercise
It happens to everyone; we get busy or tired and we don’t exercise like we should. But if you can stay strong and stick to your routine, your heart and body will thank you.
Work to avoid these obstacles. The most commonly reported reasons people didn’t exercise were:
- Obligations with work or job
- Being too tired
- Obligations with family and friends
- Being too out of shape
Here’s a perspective to consider if you find these reasons are preventing you from exercising:
➡ Are you getting enough sleep?
➡ Are you feeling energetic enough to tackle all the obligations to work, family, friends and just plain every day living?
➡ If you feel you’re “too out of shape,” how/why did that happen?
3. One of the worst heart health mistakes the survey uncovered was not having a plan to meet the weight loss goals.
This suggests an old saying: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail…worth thinking about, really, in all areas of our lives.
Keep this in mind:
➡ We need to either burn off or cut out 500 calories from our diets in a week, to lose one pound a week.
➡ Only 31% of the people who answered the questionnaire knew this.
4. Number 4 is worrisome to all Cardiologists. People with heart disease are not taking advantage of cardiac rehab programs.
➡ Cardiac rehabilitation is amazingly helpful. For one thing, it can cut the risk of dying from heart disease.
➡ Some experts estimate that less than 14% of patients that are eligible for cardiac rehab actually use it.
However, it can be the most effective “medicine” after a heart attack, heart surgery, congestive heart failure, and stent placement.
➡ It can even be effective for chronic angina (chest pain, pressure, or squeezing, often due to not enough blood flow to the heart muscle as a result of obstruction or spasm of the coronary arteries).
➡ 45% of those surveyed think that people with heart disease need to exercise less than people without. This is incorrect.
➡ If you have heart disease, you need to exercise 2.5 hours per week, just like any other healthy adult. Only 34 % of Americans are aware of this.
Everyone, children included, needs to exercise more.
6. The sixth mistake is not being aware of how health technology can help us meet our fitness goals
➡ It’s not a necessity, but if you check your heart rate while you exercise or use fitness apps to track your daily activity it can help you gauge your effort and push yourself appropriately.
➡ Only 49 % of Americans who exercise weekly have monitored their heart rate during exercise, while only 11% regularly track their daily activity pattern on a phone or tablet fitness app.
7. The last error is believing that we need to have an exercise stress test if we have high cholesterol.
Generally, doctors do not recommend a stress test for people who do not have heart-related symptoms or high cholesterol.
➡ The researchers noted that 81% of Americans incorrectly believe that a stress test is necessary. Only 15% are aware that it isn’t.
The rest? Well, as I said in the beginning….some just don’t have a clue.
Where to start?
Right here, by browsing the menu to find answers to your questions about prevention or management of heart disease.
You will also find well researched and easy to understand information on the websites listed on the bottom of this page, which I whole”heartedly” recommend.