You can do a lot to protect your heart.

Just the words “heart disease” can be scary. You can do a lot to protect your heart. According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for Americans each year, accounting for one in four U.S. deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in the United States one person dies every 36 seconds from cardiovascular disease.

Heart disease myths

Let’s set the record straight on some common myths.

Myth #1. I’m too young to worry about heart disease.

How you live now affects your risk for cardiovascular diseases later in life. One in three Americans has cardiovascular disease, but not all of them are senior citizens. A study found that, out of thousands of heart attack hospitalizations, 30 percent of the patients were 35 to 54 years old.

Myth #2. I’ll know when I’m having a heart attack because I’ll have chest pain.

Not necessarily. We all know the classic heart attack symptoms: shortness of breath and pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the jaw, neck, or back. But you could have a heart attack and not feel any of those symptoms. Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, call 911 immediately.

Myth #3. Heart disease runs in my family, so there’s nothing I can do to prevent it.

Although people with a family history of heart disease are at higher risk, you can take steps to dramatically reduce your risk.

Myth #4. I’d know if I had high blood pressure because there would be warning signs.

High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because you don’t usually know you have it. You may never experience symptoms, so don’t wait for your body to alert you there is a problem. Check your numbers with a blood pressure test.

Myth #5. Diabetes won’t threaten my heart if I take my medication.

Treating diabetes can help reduce your risk for or delay the development of cardiovascular diseases. But even when blood sugar levels are under control, you’re still at increased risk for heart disease and stroke.

Myth #6. I don’t need to have my cholesterol checked until I’m middle-aged.

The American Heart Association recommends you start getting your cholesterol checked every five years, starting at age 20.

Visit the American Heart Association website for more.

Heart support from your PEBB and SEBB benefits

Your PEBB and SEBB benefits include these wellness programs to help you take care of yourself and your heart.


SmartHealth is a voluntary wellness program. As you progress on your wellness journey, you may also qualify for the $125 SmartHealth wellness incentive. Learn more about SmartHealth and who’s eligible:

Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP)

This digital lifestyle change program helps you build healthy habits that last. It’s personalized to help you reach your health goals. Learn more about the DPP and who’s eligible.

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