This might not be surprising to hear, but you can’t live without your heart. However, many people are regularly doing things that threaten the health of their heart. You might not even be aware of the damage that you’re doing.
Your heart isn’t like your elbow. It doesn’t ache if there’s something wrong. By the time you feel something, it’s often too late.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Taking care of your heart only makes sense. The best first step is to stop doing the things that damage your heart.
Pay attention to these items to avoid damaging your heart and potentially prolong your life:
1. Obesity. Obesity is hard on your body in general and on your heart specifically. Being overweight increases the likelihood of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and diabetes. All of these health issues present a challenge to your heart health.
- High blood sugar and high blood pressure damage the interior of your blood vessels. Cholesterol can then stick to those damaged areas. A heart attack or stroke is a common long-term result.
2. Anxiety and stress. Worrying and stress also contribute to heart disease. The reason isn’t entirely clear. It’s been suggested that anxiety and stress lead to the overeating of unhealthy comfort foods, smoking, and drinking. Inflammation is also a possible contributing factor.
3. Smoking. You know that smoking is bad for you, but it might be even worse than you think. Smoking increases the likelihood of experiencing blood clots in your arteries. Smoking also increases your heart rate and raises your blood pressure.
4. You spend too much time sitting. Sitting for too long each day is bad for your heart and overall health. Avoid sitting for more than an hour before getting up and moving around for a while. Too much sitting increases the chances of suffering a heart attack.
5. Ignoring symptoms of a heart condition. If you suffer from chest pain during physical exertion, you might have a heart condition. The other common sign is the inability to catch your breath for an extended period of time or after light activity. See your doctor if you have either of these symptoms.
6. Snoring. Snoring can be harmless, but not all snoring is harmless. Sleep apnea can cause your blood pressure to rise to dangerous levels. If you snore and never seem to be able to get enough sleep to feel refreshed, you might have sleep apnea.
7. Drinking more than one drink per day. There have been studies that suggest that one drink each day might be beneficial. There are no studies that support drinking more than that. Excessive intake of alcohol can lead to high blood pressure, an increase in your blood lipids, and even heart failure.
8. Poor oral hygiene. The bacteria in your mouth that thrive in plaque and tooth decay can cause inflammation that leads to atherosclerosis. Cavities and gum disease can be hard on your heart. Brush and floss your teeth daily and visit your dentist twice a year.
9. Consuming too much caffeine. The recommended daily limit for caffeine is 400 mg per day. That’s two cups of coffee. Caffeine increases heart rate and blood pressure.
How many apply to you? What are you prepared to do to ensure that you’re not guilty of any of the items on this list in the future?
Lifestyle changes are particularly challenging. These are deeply ingrained habits that can be remarkably stubborn to change. Pick just one to start and give it your full attention. Over time, you can eliminate all of these items and give yourself the best chance to have a long, healthy life.