Millions of Americans live with some form of heart disease. This condition is a leading cause of death in the United States. While it’s not totally preventable as age and family history can play a role, there are some things you may be doing right now that are putting you at risk for getting heart disease.
Check out these nine common habits that are bad for your heart.
Most people know smoking is bad for their lungs. But it’s just as bad for your heart. It harms your heart by damaging your blood vessels and raising your blood pressure. It also keeps your body from getting enough oxygen into your blood. Even being around other people while they smoke can cause damage.
2. Drinking too much
While alcohol in moderation is okay, drinking more than you should can damage your heart. It raises your blood pressure and increases the amount of fat in your blood. Experts recommend that men have no more than two drinks per day and women have just one.
3. Not getting enough sleep
Just like the rest of your body, your heart needs rest. After a long or stressful day, your heart rate and blood pressure drop when you fall asleep. This gives your heart the rest it needs. The more restful sleep you get, the better your cardiovascular health can be. Being sleep deprived also stresses your body out, which is another habit that’s bad for your heart.
4. Staying stressed out
Stress increases your blood pressure and heart rate. Over time, that can lead to heart attack, stroke and other serious damage. For this reason, it’s important to reduce stress in your life as much as you can. That may include taking a different route to work to avoid traffic or allowing other people in your household to take on some duties. If you have a stressful job or home life, find ways to relax at least once or twice a day.
5. Binging TV shows
You probably love sitting around streaming your favorite shows. Who doesn’t? Unfortunately, sitting for long periods of time is bad for your heart and can affect the amount of sugar and fat in your blood. Instead of sitting through each episode, watch while you’re on the treadmill or exercise bike. Or, do exercises on your living room floor.
6. Skipping flossing your teeth
Your oral health plays a big role in whether or not you might develop heart disease, especially if you have gum disease. One way to treat or prevent gum disease is to floss your teeth. It’s a step many people skip when taking care of their teeth. Many dentists recommend flossing at least twice a day.
7. Eating a poor diet
You probably already know that sugar, salt and processed foods can impact you heart health. But sometimes it’s what you don’t eat that can lead to heart trouble. If you don’t eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, fish and poultry, you could be doing extra damage. Studies have shown that people who eat more fruits and vegetables with each meal have a decreased risk for heart disease.
8. Staying overweight
It’s true that people who are overweight are at a greater risk for developing problems with their hearts. An even better way to judge if your weight may affect your heart is to measure your waist. People who carry fat in that area tend to develop heart-related complications more than those who carry it elsewhere on their bodies. It’s recommended that men maintain a waist size of 40 inches or less. Women should aim for 35 inches or smaller.
9. Ignoring your body’s warning signs
Finally, heart disease doesn’t usually develop overnight. Your body often gives you warning signs. If you have high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol or a high resting heart rate, take steps to correct them. See your doctor, lose weight, change your habits, eat better, exercise — do whatever it takes. If you know you’re at risk for heart disease, take steps to change your lifestyle.
Want to learn more about your heart health? Take our free, online heart risk assessment today.