While seven out of 10 Americans acknowledge heart disease as the No. 1 killer of both men and women, a national survey conducted by MDVIP and Ipsos finds that people still worry more about cancer (62%) than they do a heart attack (55%).
"The health-care community has made important strides in raising public awareness about heart disease, yet our research shows a significant gap in how much people understand about the disease and their own risk for a heart attack," says Andrea Klemes, chief medical officer of MDVIP.
"Considering that at least 80% of cardiac events are preventable, primary care physicians are a first line of defense in helping prevent, and potentially reverse, the disease through more-comprehensive risk assessment, better education, and health coaching that together lead to longterm lifestyle changes in patients."
The survey reveals many Americans are uncertain, if not ill-informed, about the risk factors for a heart attack and what increases a person's odds for having one.
Some 75% do not know that a heart attack occurs when a blood clot forms over a plaque lesion in the arteries. A like number are not aware that most heart attacks occur in people with normal cholesterol levels.
High levels of cholesterol encourage the buildup of fatty deposits called plaque in the arteries, causing them to harden and narrow. When the plaque becomes unstable and ruptures, a blood clot forms, which leads to a heart attack. Inflammation in the arteries is the trigger for a cardiovascular event.
Only 14% of U.S. adults have had their inflammatory markers checked within the last year, while 54% have had their cholesterol levels checked during the same period.
Another common misconception found in the survey is that all fat is bad: 52% falsely believe that people with heart disease should eat as little fat as possible, not taking into account the value of unsaturated fats in foods like salmon and nuts that actually can help reduce the risk of a heart attack.
People also struggle with differentiating among bad fats. When presented a...