As the old adage goes, “as with all matters of the heart, you will know when you find it,” — including heart disease. The frighteningly rapid pounding heart, wheezing, and chest pain indicate something is amiss, with our blood vessels interfering with the body’s blood supply. While we all know the effects of smoking, red meat, and excess alcohol have on our heart’s health, there are little-known things that can make a big difference in our ability to live a heart healthy lifestyle.
Although most Americans have general knowledge about the risk factors for heart disease, one in three adults, or 80 million in the U.S. have some form of cardiovascular disease, stroke, or other blood vessel diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These statistics suggest Americans aren’t being as proactive about saving themselves from the heartache, or “heartbreaks” per year, which continue to grow. To join the American Heart Association in its effort to reduce rate of heart disease by 20 percent by 2020, break these surprising daily habits that surely debilitate your heart.
1. Bad Temper
The huffing and puffing from a heated argument can take a toll on your health, especially your heart. Chronic bouts of rage or intense anger can actually raise your risk of heart disease, affecting your blood pressure and even disturbing the electrical impulses of the heart. A 2000 study published in the journal Circulation found among 13,000 middle-aged participants with normal blood pressure, those who were the angriest had almost twice the risk of coronary artery disease and three times the risk of heart attack when compared to those who showed the least anger. The researchers noted anger, along with anxiety, and other negative emotions can harm heart health by increasing blood pressure and interfering with the electrical impulses of the heart, which may lead to atherosclerosis, fat build up in the arteries.
2. Low Intake Of Fruits And Vegetables
It’s time to have a hear-to-heart with mom and thank her for all the times she forced you to eat your fruits and vegetables. A low intake of fruits and vegetables — less than 1.5 servings a day — can increase the likelihood of dying from heart disease. A 2004 study published in the Journal of National Cancer Institute found the higher the average daily intake of fruits and vegetables, the lower the chances of developing cardiovascular disease. Those who average eight or more servings a day were 30 percent less likely to have had a heart attack or stroke. Green, leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and mustard greens; cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and kale; and citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit (and their juices) are the most effective in curbing heart disease risk.
3. Not Flossing
Skipping out on flossing may seem like a dental misdemeanor, but it can wreak havoc on your heart health. Not flossing leads to buildup of bacteria in the gums, and this buildup can trigger gum disease and inflammation throughout your entire body, including the heart. Matthew Nejad and Kyle Stanley, dentists at Helm | Nejad | Stanley — Dentistry in Beverly Hills, Calif., told Medical Daily in an email: "You are putting yourself at a higher risk of periodontal disease by not flossing because you are not getting all of the food & bacteria between your teeth that you can't reach with a toothbrush. ... These bacteria cause inflammation which can ultimately result in complications such as the arterial narrowing that contributes to heart attacks."
Patients with a history of irregular heartbeat, heart murmur, or such are recommended to consult their general physician or cardiologist prior to dental procedures even as simple as teeth cleaning, said Dr. Fran Walfish, psychotherapist, author, and expert panelist on “Sex Box,” WE TV premiering in the US early 2015 to Medical Daily in an email. “Many doctors recommend these patients take antibiotics prior to dental work in order to prevent infection.”
Snoring at night is not only an annoyance but also a sign of serious health problems, like obstructive sleep apnea, which can increase your risk of heart disease. When a snorer repeatedly stops breathing for brief moments, it can lead to cardiovascular problems. According to the American Heart Association, when a person experiences pauses in breathing five to 30 times per hour, or more during sleep, these episodes wake the sleeper as they gasp for air, and can lead to high blood pressure, arrhythmia, and heart failure. People susceptible to being overweight or obese are at higher risk for sleep apnea, although slim people can have it too.
5. Watching TV
The guilty pleasure of watching TV for hours on end while sitting on the couch is a deadly habit you need to break. Sitting for a prolonged period of time can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, even if you exercise regularly due to the lack of movement affecting blood levels of fats and sugars. A 2011 study published in the journal Clinical Diabetes found a couple of hours of daily TV watching can add up to substantial risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and death. Every two hours spent in front of the television per day, boosts relative risk of 20 percent for type 2 diabetes, 15 percent for cardiovascular disease, and 13 percent for all-cause mortality. Watching TV doesn’t only take time away from less sedentary activities, but also encourages unhealthy eating.
Modify your lifestyle and break these daily habits that are harming your heart.