Be heart wise


By Philip S. Chua, MD.

COVID-19 affects only the lungs

As of today, the COVID-19 pandemic has victimized almost 64 million people and had killed nearly 1.5 million around the globe. The heart is one of the organs affected by COVID-19 infection, besides the lungs. Actually, as the disease progresses, multiple-organ damages could occur, especially among the seniors with other health issues. The healthier ones with robust immune system, including children, recover from this viral illness more readily than the vulnerable high-risk people 65 and older. There is no question that the persistence (worsening) of the pandemic is due to people’s lack of discipline and non-compliance, especially among the arrogant non-thinking people who demand civil-rights and do whatever they want in the name of freedom and democracy, regardless of other people’s right to remain healthy and not be killed, and of societal good and public safety. Some of them have accidentally killed people not knowing it, without even realizing their reckless behavior was tantamount to homicidal negligence. Let us continue to do only essential travels outside our home, use facemask or two in public, not touch our face, wash our hands frequently, and do social distancing. Science has shown that the use of facemask protects BOTH the wearer and others, and that social distancing works. Again, let us not accidentally kill people, including our loved ones.

Persons younger than 40 do not get heart disease

This is a myth. The youngest patient we did coronary bypass surgery on in Indiana, U.S.A., was a 28-year-old diabetic Caucasian female, who had very high cholesterol level, high blood pressure, and a cigarette smoker. At Cebu Cardiovascular Center in Cebu City, the youngest heart bypass patient we had was a 34-year-old man. Coronary artery disease does not respect any age, gender, or any person who abuses himself/herself with an unhealthy lifestyle. 

Sex is bad for the heart.

On the contrary, sex is good for the heart. The morphine-like opiates and other feel-good hormones our own body secretes during sex or during any happy activities or thought processes we have, the physical exercise during sex, and the healthy outlet it provides both partners, actually benefit the heart. Only those with untreated coronary artery disease or heart failure could get into trouble during sex.

Heart disease is inherited.

Rarely, certain congenital (inborn) structural defect of the heart may be genetic, but in general, we cannot blame our ancestry for the heart diseases that are very common today, like coronary artery disease (cause of heart attacks), or heart valve diseases (due to Rheumatic Fever). Although some families seem to be more prone to heart attacks, and the traits could be a part of the genes, the important causative factors in this situation are mostly not heredity but environmental — the life style of the family members.

Children of heart attack victims will have the same fate

This is not true. Even if both parents had heart attacks or coronary artery disease, their children are not necessarily condemned to same fate, provided the children live a healthier lifestyle, unlike their parents. If these children stay on low cholesterol diet, eat fish (instead of red meat), a lot of vegetables, fruits, and high fiber foods, do not smoke, exercise at least 5 times a week, maintain a normal weight, know how to relax and manage stress, they can escape significant coronary artery disease. Healthy lifestyle outweighs genetics in more than 80 percent of people around the globe.

Exercise damages the heart.

Definitely does not. The heart can take a lot more challenges than one can imagine. It is one of the strongest muscular organs in the human body. Exercise has beneficial effects on the heart. Even heart attack patients who have recovered from the acute phase are prescribed an exercise regimen. Exercise dilates (opens wider) coronary arteries that supply the heart muscles with oxygen and nutrition. Brisk walking is the new recommendation, because of the significant resulting injuries to the spine, hips, knees, ankles of jogging in the long run.

Heart attack victims should be sedentary

Nothing is farther from the truth. Heart attack patients who have recovered should resume normal activities as prescribed by their physicians. It is most essential for these people to be active again as soon as they are medically allowed to. A sedentary life for these patients would only lead to deterioration of the heart and to vegetation.  Those who bounce back to as normal a life as possible following a heart attack will fare much better physically and mentally than those who resign themselves to invalidism.

Longevity is shortened by heart bypass

This is another myth. Coronary bypass surgery, not only improves the quality of life by eliminating chest pains but also increases the life span of patients, whose life will otherwise be reduced by heart attack. Heart bypass is superior to angioplasty among those with more than 2 (multiple) coronary artery blockages. More and more clinical studies are showing this to be the case.

Red meats and eggs are good for children

A dangerous myth! High cholesterol diet is bad for children as it is unhealthy for adults. It has been shown on autopsies performed on children (victims of various accidents and illnesses) ages 4 to 6 that the inner walls of their arteries were already lined with a thin layer of cholesterol plaques (fatty deposits). Therefore, it is clear that hardening of the arteries starts even earlier than that tender age. Since red meats (like pork and beef and anything made of them) and eggs (particularly the yolk) are high in cholesterol, these foods are detrimental to children and to all of us. They cause arteriosclerosis (hardening of our arteries) which leads to heart attack or stroke, which kills one person every 60 seconds in the United States alone. Indeed, not only an epidemic, even here in the Philippines, but a pandemic, worldwide! Fish, on the other hand, contains Omega 3 fatty acids that is cardioprotective (good for our heart), the reason why it is highly recommended for all of us (together with the other healthy life style regimen we discussed above), and most especially for our toddlers and children, where prevention of cardiovascular diseases could be, and should be, maximized.  Unwittingly and without malice, we, the parents, are “killing” our children with love by allowing them to live the same undisciplined, unhealthy and deadly lifestyle we have, which, in essence, cheats them of good health and well-being, and shortens their lives.  Being good examples ourselves and teaching healthy habits to our kids (starting from) while they are still in the crib and learning to say “no” to our children, when and where appropriate, will lead to a healthier, wiser and happier family. It is time for us, parents, to stop “killing” our children with love.  Go to for more details.

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, a Health Public Advocate, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian and anti-graft foundation in the United States. Visit our websites: and    Email: