Surprising Things That Can Lead to Heart Disease

Women are more likely than men to have multiple risk factors so how aware are you?


There are two types of risk factor for heart disease. The first is lifestyle so diet, exercise, tobacco use, alcohol consumption, being overweight, stress, and depression are all significant.

The second type are medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol which can also increase women’s risk of heart disease.

What is heart disease?

It’s a group of conditions related to your heart. Some are problems with the muscle itself, the valves, or how it beats, including cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation, and heart failure.

Others affect your blood vessels, like hardened arteries and strokes. Unhealthy foods, lack of exercise, and smoking are often what lead to heart disease. So can high blood pressure, infections, and birth defects. But other things like the ones below might surprise you.

The noise factor

Starting at around 50 decibels — between the volume of a refrigerator humming and a friendly chat — traffic noise can raise your blood pressure and the likelihood of heart failure. So that’s also true for trains, buses, and planes – in fact more forms of transport.

For each 10-decibel increase, your odds of heart disease and stroke go up even more. Scientists think it’s tied to how your body reacts to stress.


These may be something you have experienced throughout your hormonal life, particularly round a period. However they tend to worsen in the years leading up to the menopause, with attacks occurring more frequently and sometimes also lasting longer.

Again there is no hard evidence as to why, but it seems that you’re more likely to have a stroke, chest pain, and heart attacks when you get migraines, especially with auras.

And if heart disease runs in your family ,or you’ve had heart problems or a stroke, you may not want to take medicines called triptan that are tryptamine-based for your migraines because they narrow your blood vessels.

Check with your doctor about the best way to control and treat your headaches.

Having children

Parents have a greater chance of getting heart disease, and the odds go up slightly with each child. Because that’s true for both sexes, biology probably isn’t behind it.

But women who get their first period before they’re 12 or stop having periods before they’re 47 are more likely to have a stroke as well as heart disease. A woman’s risk also goes up if she’s had a miscarriage or had her ovaries or uterus removed.

The height factor

For every 2.5 inches less than average height, the chance of heart disease goes up about 8%. Shorter people tend to have higher cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

It’s possible that the ways your body controls your height and your “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides overlap somehow.


Having few friends or being unhappy with your relationships raises your odds of heart disease and stroke by about as much as secondhand smoke does. Feeling alone has been linked to high blood pressure and other effects of stress.

Prevention is definitely the best option so join a group that appeals to you, whether hobby based or just an interest, or one of the many local classes on offer from astrology to Zumba dancing. It doesn’t matter what it is, you will be building a stronger social network and helping to prevent heart disease.

ADHD medication

Although stimulant drugs such as dextroamphetamine and methylphenidate may help you focus, they can also raise your heart rate and blood pressure. Over time, that could lead to heart problems.

Discuss your options with your doctor to decide if the benefits of your ADHD medicine outweigh the possible risks to your heart.

Long working hours

More people who work at least 55 hours per week have heart disease than those who work 35-40 hours. That could be the result of a number of things: more stress, more sitting, less healthy meals or snacks or perhaps drinking more alcohol, for example.

You can’t always regulate your hours but you can put a healthy care plan in pace to to avoid heart disease and stroke. Have regular medical check ups, eat a good nutritious diet, take regular exercise and deal with any stress that arises.

 Gum disease

Bacteria from your mouth, including periodontal disease, can get into your blood and set off inflammation in the lining of your arteries, which can lead to fatty buildup in them (atherosclerosis).

Research shows that treating gum disease can lower the level of an inflammation marker called C-reactive protein in your blood. Doctors use this measurement, along with your cholesterol levels, to predict “cardiac events” like a heart attack.

Childhood trauma

Things like violence, bullying, and abuse when you were younger — including seeing harm done to others — have been linked to high blood pressure, obesity, and type 2 diabetes in adults.

And these health problems give you a greater chance for heart disease. The ongoing stress early in life can change how your body works. You may also be dealing in unhealthy ways with the effects of feeling unsafe while growing up such as overeating, alcohol or drugs for example.

Seek professional help from a counsellor or put an action plan in place to deal with your past in a healthy way.


Don’t dismiss this as ‘something you get in the winter’ as a 2018 study found that people ended up in the hospital with a heart attack six times more often in the week after they were diagnosed with influenza than in the year before and after.

Doctors aren’t sure why. It may be that when you’re fighting an infection, your blood gets more sticky and clots more easily. It may have something to do with inflammation. Make sure you take good care of yourself, and don’t try to do too much too soon and put more strain on your body, let yourself have a full recovery period.


You’re almost five times more likely to have a heart attack after you’ve been furious. In the 2 hours after an outburst of rage, the chance of a stroke or racing heartbeat goes up, too.

You can’t always avoid or control what sets you off, so find a way to deal with your anger in the moment and cool that fire. If it happens often, consider an anger management class or therapy to lower your long-term risk of heart trouble.