Keeping your heart strong is one of the best things you can do for your health. There are many helpful ways to boost heart health, whether you start exercising regularly or change your diet. However, there are some lesser-known ways that your habits, life stage and lifestyle might negatively impact your heart health.
Learn more about these heart disease risk factors and find out what you can do to change them.
During the current COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are experiencing stress more than ever before. The longer and more intense your stress is, the worse it may be for your heart. Stress can increase your risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats. Being stressed can even change the way your blood clots itself, which may increase your risk of having a heart attack.
Take the time to try relaxing stress-management techniques like meditation and gentle exercise.
Lack of Sleep
Not getting enough sleep tops the list of heart disease risk factors. Often, an inability to sleep is actually a symptom of another problem that can cause heart issues, such as sleep apnea or anxiety. Not getting enough ZZZs at night may also increase insulin resistance, which happens when your body doesn’t use insulin efficiently. Insulin resistance can also cause you to develop diabetes.
Try your best to get seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Reach out to your primary care provider if you continue to struggle with getting enough sleep.
Heart disease is the number-one cause of death for women, and female hormones may play a role in developing it. Estrogen, the primary female sex hormone, can keep arteries more flexible and relaxed, which means it’s easier for a woman’s heart to pump blood. When a woman goes through menopause, however, her body produces less estrogen. This can cause her arteries to stiffen, which may lead to high blood pressure.
Surprisingly, the bacteria between your teeth that can cause your gums to become inflamed can also affect your heart. When you have gum disease, the germs in your mouth may get into your bloodstream and travel to your heart. This creates inflammation in damaged areas of your heart tissue and may even cause its muscles to become infected.
When something tugs at your heartstrings or breaks your heart, you’re not just experiencing strong sadness. Your heart could actually have a physical reaction to this intense emotion. Although they’re usually temporary, experiencing loss can cause symptoms that resemble those of a heart attack, including sharp chest pains and shortness of breath. And, these reactions cause just as much real stress to your cardiovascular system.
For a healthy heart, try not to skip breakfast — it really is the most important meal of the day. According to the American Heart Association, people who eat breakfast every morning often experience lower rates of heart disease and have lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels than people who pass up this meal.
Not Lifting Weights
Aerobic exercise is important for everything from improving your mood to boosting your heart health. However, strength training might play just as important a role in keeping your heart pumping properly. Incorporate short, regular sessions of weight-lifting into your fitness routine to start seeing the benefits.
Want to add more heart-healthy habits to your life? Find a Mercy Health primary care physician near you today.