he Center for Control and Disease Protection shares that 47% or about half of all Americans have at least one of three risk factors for heart disease: smoking, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
If you ask anyone, people can easily list off the common risk factors: family history, behaviors, and existing conditions. Among conditions, the CDC lists the following:
- Unhealthy diet, such as foods rich in saturated fat, trans fat, salt, and cholesterol
- Physical inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle resulting in obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes
- Too much alcohol, which can raise blood pressure and triglycerides or a form of cholesterol that could harden our arteries
- Tobacco use or even secondary smoke, which damages your heart and blood vessels. This increases your risks for heart attacks and other heart conditions.
Doctors would advise their patients to live healthier lifestyles by watching what they eat or drink, reducing or quitting smoking, and having regular exercise.
However, there are threats to heart health that you might not even be aware of. They don’t often appear in articles, posters, or even your doctor’s advice.
Here are the factors you should watch out for.
Just like smoking, air pollution can cause damage to your heart and blood vessels. Polluted air, when inhaled, can cause inflammation in the cardiovascular system.
While long-term solutions to promoting better air quality is on the hands of policymakers, there are short-term solutions. Regular exercise outweighs the effects of air pollution, according to a recent study.
You can also opt to stay indoors if you’re vulnerable, and wear the right type of mask when you go out. These types of masks have become popular, so make sure you use N90 or N95 masks instead of the ordinary hospital masks.
Yes, it’s actually possible to die of loneliness and heartbreak. While social isolation is difficult to measure or treat, it does help to find a community of people like you. Start looking out for clubs aligned with your interests and join their activities. Reach out to old friends and don’t be afraid to make new connections.
The American Heart Association is clear about the effects of stress on heart health. More research is needed to explain how exactly it works, but it contributes to high blood pressure.
Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, chair of the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, says that it’s easy to say to reduce stress, but it’s harder to do.
People who are under a lot of stress and loneliness also tend to drink and smoke more, further threatening their heart health. They also suffer from lack of sleep, another hidden heart health threat.
Without enough sleep, your body has less chances to properly recharge and repair broken cells in your body. The Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that less than 6 hours of sleep was associated with the buildup of plaque in the arteries. This increases risks for heart attacks.
Threats to heart health run deeper than you think. Take a look at your current habits and see what you can do to shield yourself from these hidden health risks that could sneak up on you. A healthier heart always improves your quality of life.