Heart health. It’s a term nearly every Arkansan knows. But do we truly understand what it means? Even more importantly, do we know what lifestyle habits we should adopt, or avoid, to protect it? The world-class cardiologists at Arkansas Heart Hospital are here to explain what’s (a)fib — and what’s a fact — when it comes to preventing heart disease.


Fish oil supplements protect against heart disease.

A recent study revealed Omega-3 supplements, commonly known as fish oil, may not be as beneficial to heart health as once believed. Trials currently suggest, but do not prove, there may be a dose-related risk of atrial fibrillation, an irregular and rapid heartbeat, with higher Omega-3 fatty acid intake. 


Drinking red wine is good for our hearts.
Red wine contains antioxidants, such as resveratrol, that are shown to reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and prevent blood vessel damage and clots. However, drinking too much alcohol, including red wine, can cause harmful health effects like high blood pressure or arrhythmias. Like any food or drink, red wine should be enjoyed safely and in moderation. 


Vitamins can help reduce our risk of heart disease.

When taken at the recommended doses, vitamins can provide health benefits. However, there is no scientific evidence that shows these supplements minimize the risk of heart disease or replace the need for regular exercise or a balanced diet. Further, it’s important to note the FDA does not regulate what’s written on the labels of over-the-counter supplements.  


Cholesterol-lowering drugs balance out unhealthy dietary choices.

Medicines like statins slow down the production of LDL cholesterol — the “bad cholesterol” — in the liver. They do not protect against the effects of diets high in cholesterol, saturated fats or sugar. Individuals should follow a balanced diet to keep their cholesterol in check and help reduce the risk of related diseases like hypertension.


Adopting certain diets lowers the chance of getting heart disease. 

It depends. For example, studies have found the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in plants, nuts, whole grains, olive oil and seafood, optimizes cardiovascular health. On the other hand, the benefits of intermittent fasting depend on who is following the plan. Individuals should consult with their health care providers before adopting a new diet.

Fact: Heart disease is common, but it’s not inevitable. With early detection and smart lifestyle choices, we can help reduce our risk of developing cardiovascular issues. To learn more about Arkansas Heart Hospital’s services or schedule an appointment, visit arheart.com or call 501-219-7000.


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