13. Carrying Around Extra Weight
Excess poundage weighs on your heart the most. Research shows that overweight people who achieve even modest weight loss (5 to 10 percent of total body weight) reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.
Know your healthy weight range. Eating a plant-heavy diet, reducing your consumption of empty calories and processed foods, and being more active are three of the easiest ways to get there. Don't undertake a trendy diet like Keto without talking to your doctor.
14. Not Having Enough Sex
This one's easy. A review of research published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that having sex once a month or less increases your risk of cardiovascular disease. Although erectile dysfunction (ED) can be an indicator of heart disease, this review found an association between low sexual activity and heart disease independent of ED.
15. Not Eating Enough Omega-3s
Foods high in omega-3s are great for our heart. This type of unsaturated fatty acid may reduce inflammation throughout the body, decrease triglycerides, lower blood pressure and decrease heart disease risk, the Mayo Clinic says.
Eat whole-food sources of omega-3s like lean fish, grass-fed beef, walnuts and omega-3 eggs. The National Institutes of Health recommend women get 1,100mg and men have 1,600mg of omega-3s daily. Don't take a shortcut by popping supplements; research indicates they may be ineffective.
16.And Eating Too Many Omega-6s
Be on the lookout for omega-3's cousin. Consuming too many omega-6s can raise your risk of heart disease. Although this polyunsaturated fatty acid is essential for health, most Americans eat too much. Scientists believe an excess of omega-3s can trigger inflammation throughout the body, which is bad for your heart. They're most commonly found in vegetable and corn oils, mayonnaise and salad dressings.
Experts say vegetable and seed oils are the biggest sources of omega-6s in the American diet. Cook with heart-healthy olive oil instead.
17. You Have Uncontrolled Diabetes
The risk of developing Type 2 diabetes increases dramatically over age 40, so much that the American Diabetes Association recommends a regular diabetes screening for all adults over 45. Diabetes causes sugars to build up in the blood; over time, that damages arteries and can lead to cardiovascular disease.
Get screened during your annual physical. If you're on medication for your diabetes, make sure you're compliant with dosages and monitoring.
Cigarette smoking is the No. 1 preventable cause of death, according to the Cleveland Clinic. And lung cancer isn't the only major threat — toxins in cigarette smoke damage the lining of your arteries, causing them to thicken, while reducing the amount of oxygen in the blood. That spikes your risk of a heart attack.
Quit smoking ASAP; see your doctor for help. (It's never too late: Even people who quit smoking between the ages of 65 to 69 can add one to four years to their lives, the Cleveland Clinic says.) And if you don't smoke, this is not a golden-years habit you want to pick up.
19. A Sedentary Desk Job
A 2017 study at the University of Warwick found that workers with desk jobs had bigger waists and a higher risk of heart disease than those with more active jobs. What's more, workers' bad (LDL) cholesterol increased and good (HDL) cholesterol decreased with each hour beyond five hours of sitting a day.
If you work a desk job, converting to a treadmill desk might be a bit hardcore, but you should stand and move around as much as possible during the day.
20. Ignoring Your Family History
According to research published in the journal Circulation, men with a family history of heart disease had nearly a 50 percent increased risk of developing cardiovascular problems. The National Institutes of Health calls that family history a primary risk for heart disease. Are you doomed? No. But it's all the more reason to prioritize heart health.
Make sure your doctor knows about your family history and ask if any additional screening tests would be a good idea. "Your family medical history is a key, but complex, risk factor for heart disease," said Dr. Pradeep Natarajan, a cardiologist with Massachusetts General Hospital, in Harvard Men's Health Watch. "The risk factor will always be there, but the longer you live without developing heart disease with healthy behaviors, the smaller its effect."
21. Eating Ultra-Processed Food
We know that one key to heart health is to eat more whole foods and less processed junk, but experts have pinpointed a new enemy: What they call "ultra-processed food." Two May 2019 studies published in The BMJ link highly processed food with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and an increased risk of early death. What's "ultra-processed"? The researchers listed "sausages, mayonnaise, potato chips, pizza, cookies, chocolates and candies, artificially sweetened beverages and whisky, gin and rum." In other words, stuff you know you should be avoiding anyway. In other studies, highly processed food consumption has been correlated with higher risks of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol — all risk factors for a heart attack.
Limit the proportion of ultra-processed food you eat, and increase unprocessed and minimally processed foods—like any food recommended by Eat This, Not That!
22. Eating Too Much Salt
Studies show that most Americans consume about 3,400mg of sodium daily — way over the recommended 2,300mg (which amounts to about one teaspoon of salt). High salt intake is a major risk factor for high blood pressure, which in turn ups your chance of having a heart attack.
Not only should you put down the salt shaker (according to the American Heart Association, ¼ teaspoon of salt is 575mg of sodium) but limit your consumption of fast food and processed foods, which tend to come loaded with sodium. They have so much, in fact, that if you eat them frequently, you might be over a healthy limit even if you don't add salt to your meals.
23. Stressing Out All The Time
We all have stress, and no one wants to be called a snowflake, but science is clear that chronic stress is really bad for your body. "When stress is excessive, it can contribute to everything from high blood pressure, also called hypertension, to asthma to ulcers to irritable bowel syndrome," said Ernesto L. Schiffrin, M.D., Ph.D., professor in the Department of Medicine at McGill University. Hypertension is bad for your heart — and stress leads people to engage in other unhealthy behavior that can tax your ticker, including drinking too much alcohol and stress-eating.
Exercising, not smoking, eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight are good ways to deal with stress, said Schiffrin.
If you snore, it might be more than a nuisance for your bedmate. Snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, during which breathing can stop for as long a minute before your brain wakes you up to resume breathing. Sleep apnea has been associated with high blood pressure and other health problems. And according to the National Sleep Foundation, snoring itself is associated with a risk of cardiovascular disease. People who snore have a higher chance of experiencing a thickening in the carotid artery, which doctors think might be caused by the vibrations of snoring.
If you snore, or your partner points out your snoring, talk to your doctor—if not for yourself, then for your bedmate.
25. Not Getting Enough Sleep
Americans are chronically sleep deprived, and not only does it make us a real piece of work in the mornings, it's bad for heart health. According to a study done by the CDC, people who slept less than 7 hours a night reported having more heart attacks — along with obesity, Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, three conditions that lead to heart disease.
For optimum health and to lower your heart attack risk, get seven to nine hours of shut-eye a night.