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Check out these newly released Special Health Reports from Harvard Medical School
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You can't buy good health but you can buy good health information. Check out these newly released Special Health Reports from Harvard Medical School:

Believing myths and misconceptions about heart disease may increase heart attack risk, from the Harvard Heart Letter

Knowledge about heart disease changes quickly, but our beliefs don't always keep up. As a result, misconceptions abound. The June 2013 issue of the Harvard Heart Letter addresses ten commonly held but mistaken, ideas about heart disease.

For example, many people believe that everyone with heart disease should eat as little fat as possible. In reality, eating some fats actually lowers the risk of heart disease. These healthy fats include unsaturated fats found in vegetable oils and other foods, and omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and other fatty fishes. The ones to be avoided, because they boost heart attack risk, are saturated and trans fats.

Another myth is that people with heart disease should take it easy. Not so. Physical activity is beneficial for both the healthy heart and the diseased heart. It strengthens the heart muscle, increases blood flow to the heart and brain, and improves overall health.

Here's another: it's okay for blood pressure to rise with age. High blood pressure is a sign that artery walls are becoming stiff. That forces the heart to pump harder, which damages arteries over time. When blood pressure rises above 140/90 millimeters of mercury at any age, it needs attention.

Another common belief is that it's okay to eat anything if you take a cholesterol-lowering drug. In reality, eating foods high in cholesterol and saturated fat make these drugs less effective or even ineffective.

Other myths and misconceptions cover diabetes and cardiovascular disease, the benefits of taking vitamins and minerals, "it's too late to quit smoking," small heart attacks, angioplasty and stenting or bypass surgery as "cures" for heart disease, and gender.

Read the full-length article: "10 myths about heart disease"

Also in this issue of the Harvard Heart Letter

  • 10 myths about heart disease
  • Ask the doctors: What could a sharp pain in the upper back mean?
  • Ask the doctors: What's the relationship between blood pressure and knee pain?
  • Ways to reduce your dependence on blood pressure medications
  • Avoid these with heart medications
  • When a drug you take comes under fire
  • How to prepare for a safe vacation
  • Harvard Heart Advances: Weight gain after quitting smoking does not increase heart risk
  • Harvard Heart Advances: For best results, take your medications as prescribed
  • Heart beat: Mental decline from arrhythmia

More Harvard Health News »


About Harvard Health Publications

Harvard Health Publications publishes four monthly newsletters--Harvard Health Letter, Harvard Women's Health Watch, Harvard Men's Health Watch, and Harvard Heart Letter--as well as more than 50 special health reports and books drawing on the expertise of the 8,000 faculty physicians at Harvard Medical School and its world-famous affiliated hospitals.