11 Surprising Things That Hurt Your Heart
Women are twice as likely to die of coronary heart disease, the main cause of heart attack, as breast cancer in the UK but are you aware of all the risks?
It’s not rocket science: you know that a bad diet and too little exercise can hurt your heart. BUT there are lots of less well known factors that can influence your risk of heart disease that you may not be aware of.
Here are some you need to know about, and what you can do to stay heart-healthy.
1. Dental problems
People with gum disease are more likely to have heart disease too so if you need extra motivation to brush and floss every day this could be it
The connection isn’t clear, but some experts think bacteria from your gums may move into your bloodstream, leading to inflammation of the blood vessels and other heart problems.
See your dentist every 6 months for checkups and make an appointment right away if you spot redness or soreness on your gums or changes in your teeth.
2. Early menopause
If you go into menopause before you turn 46, your odds of having a heart attack or stroke may be twice as high as those who go through it later.
You already face the sudden onset of symptoms such as hot flushes, so if you have any history of heart disease in the family ask your doctor to test you for risk factors like high cholesterol.
We may not like to admit to it, but if your partner says you regularly snore or you sound like you’re gasping for air while sleeping, see your doctor as you might have a serious condition called apnoea.
It can happen when your airway is partially blocked and it causes you to have pauses in your breathing. The disorder is linked to high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat, strokes, and heart failure. Treatment can help you breathe easier and lower your risk for heart disease too.
4. Not enough good sleep
When you routinely get less than 6 hours a night, you raise your risk of higher blood pressure and cholesterol. It increases the odds you’ll become overweight and get diabetes, both of which can hurt your heart.
That doesn’t mean you should sleep your way through the day. When you spend more than 9 hours horizontal on a regular basis, it raises your odds of getting diabetes and having a stroke — major risk factors for heart disease.
Pay attention to your sleep pattern and aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.
5. Too much exercise all at once
Exercise is great for your heart, BUT if you’re out of shape or only work out occasionally, start slowly and build your endurance. Research shows that when you exercise too long or too hard, it may put you at risk for heart attack and other problems.
Not sure what’s safe for you? Start with a gentle exercise like walking and if you have a high risk of heart disease, talk to your doctor, and consider using a heart monitor while working out.
6. Shift work
Working at night or irregular hours raises your risk of a heart attack, according to a study from Western University in Canada. Researchers say shift work has a bad impact on the body’s circadian rhythm (a.k.a. your “internal clock”), and they think that harms your heart.
So if you don’t work regular day hours, take extra steps to lower your risk of heart disease: get exercise, eat a balanced diet, and see your doctor for regular checkups.
7. Traffic delays
Anyone who’s ever been stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic will tell you it’s stressful. That may be why research links spending a single hour in traffic to higher odds of having a heart attack.
High noise levels — like the kind you hear on a busy dual carriageway — are also linked to heart disease. If you can’t avoid traveling during rush hour, ease stress by listening to relaxing music or share the ride and chat with your fellow passenger.
8. An unhappy relationship
A good match makes your heart happy and healthy and those who are content in their primary relationship have a lower risk of heart disease than those who aren’t, according to a recent study from Michigan State University.
When a relationship is under strain then you are going to be stressed and that’s when you’re more likely to make bad diet choices and do other things that can hurt your heart, like drink too much alcohol.
What’s more, stress hormones may have a negative effect on the heart so take steps to fix the problem by talking with your partner or going for counselling.
A bad relationship is a risk factor but not having any relationship, or a good social life, is one too as it means you are be more likely to have heart disease.
When you spend time with loved ones, it thwarts stress and helps you stay active. If you’re not near family or close friends, get connected by volunteering or get a pet as dog owners might enjoy better heart health and live longer, too.
10. Belly fat
Any extra weight is hard on your heart, but the kind around your midsection is especially dangerous and that often be a real problem at menopause. Fat in that region may trigger your body to make hormones and other chemicals that can raise blood pressure and isn’t good for either your blood vessels or cholesterol levels.
If you’re a woman and your waist is more than 35 inches around then start planning a diet and exercise plan. Research shows that yoga and short bursts of high-intensity exercise are great ways to reduce your middle, but start slowly and with guidance.
11. Too much TV
If you watch TV for long periods you are more likely to get heart problems than those who limit their TV time. Every hour you spend watching TV on a daily basis may increase your risk by almost 20%.
Sitting is the most likely culprit; it’s linked to problems like high blood pressure so if you don’t want to increase your risk try watching while standing, as that’ll help too.
As a woman’s risk for heart disease does often increase at Menopause, it’s sensible to take precautions and cover all the bases. If any of these areas have given you an a-ha moment, make small changes as they really can make a big difference.
Belly fat is sadly all too common at menopause, so if you need some help in that area this article provides it.