Heart failure is the leading cause of death in the United States, and many people are aware of the major risk factors of cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, family history, alcohol and tobacco use, lack of exercise, etc. However, there are many other threats to your heart health that you may not be aware of. Here are some major risk factors for heart disease that may surprise you.
While we all know air pollution is a health hazard, recent research shows that there’s a direct link between toxic matter in the air and heart disease. This is especially true for older people and those with preexisting cardiovascular conditions. The particulate matter in dirty air causes the blood vessels to age prematurely and contributes to coronary artery disease. If you’re in a vulnerable group, avoid going outside during high pollution and wear a mask.
Smoking is bad for your heart, but did you know that loneliness is just as harmful to your heart health? Our bodies and minds are intricately connected, and mental health issues can have a negative effect on our physical health as well. Lonely people are about 30% more likely to experience a heart attack or stroke. A prolonged feeling of loneliness can weaken our immune system and cause higher blood pressure.
We all know obesity puts you at risk of heart disease, but even if your BMI is normal, having belly fat can have a negative effect on your heart health. Doctors can determine if you have too much belly fat using your waist-to-height or waist-to-hips ratio. Frighteningly, these measurements can predict cardiac death. You can reduce your abdominal fat by maintaining a regular exercise routine and trying to eat as healthy as possible.
Snoring does not just hurt your partner’s sleep — it can hurt your heart too. In many cases, snoring is a sign of obtrusive sleep apnea, a condition that can lead to cardiovascular problems. People with apnea tend to stop breathing during sleep, which results in loud gasps for air afterward. As your body is deprived of oxygen, this triggers a surge in some stress hormones, which can cause high blood pressure and other irregularities. Not everyone who snores has apnea, but it’s a good idea to do a checkup.
Too Much Physical Activity
Cardiologists and other medical practitioners always urge patients to introduce regular exercise to their daily routine. With the obesity epidemic and the rise in sedentary jobs, physical activity is now more important than ever. However, there’s such a thing as too much exercise. If you overexert yourself, you actually increase your risk of experiencing a heart problem. It’s best to start with some gentle exercises and gradually introduce more strenuous ones.
Brookhaven Heart Helps You Keep Your Heart Healthy
If you’re experiencing any of these heart health issues or you show some of the more common signs of heart disease, don’t hesitate to contact us. We at Brookhaven Heart have years of experience in our field, and our doctors and medical staff will take great care of you.