The heart is one of the most important organs in the body. It works by pumping blood to deliver the needed oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and cells. A heart problem may take a toll on one’s health.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death across the globe. More people die from heart disease each year than from any other cause.
About 17.7 million individuals died from heart disease in 2015 alone, which is equivalent to 31 percent of all global deaths.
Fortunately, heart disease is preventable. People can prevent having the disease in the first place by addressing behavioral risk factors and bad habits. Lifestyle change is one of the best ways to curb heart disease.
Here are the worst habits you need to break to promote heart health and prevent acquiring heart disease.
1. Watching TV
Sitting for long hours and binge watching your favorite TV series increase your risk of developing heart disease. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), being sedentary does not only mean having lack of exercise, but it’s an independent risk factor for heart disease and stroke. This means that even active people who exercise but spend long hours sitting down are also at risk.
2. Leaving depression unchecked
Being depressed and hostile can be risk factors for heart disease, Health reports. Being depressed, hostile and stressed may take a toll on the heart. Specifically, the way a person handles his or her emotions may affect one’s heart health. People who internalize stress are more prone to heart disease than those who talk to someone about their problems.
3. Ignoring snoring
Snoring is annoying, but more than just annoyance, it could signal a more serious health problem – obstructive sleep apnea. This condition, in which one may experience pauses in breathing during sleep, makes the person more susceptible to heart disease. Sleep apnea interferes with normal sleep, which is linked to arrhythmia, heart failure, stroke and increased blood pressure.
4. Social isolation
People who prefer to be alone are at a heightened risk of heart disease. It is important to establish and strengthen your connections with other people like family and friends.
5. Forgetting to floss your teeth
Though oral health is not the key to heart disease prevention, it’s essential to take care of your teeth and gums. Brushing your teeth and flossing daily may help reduce the risk of heart disease. There is a growing body of knowledge on how the bacteria in the oral cavity can cause heart disease. A common gum disease, periodontitis, has been linked to heart problems.
6. Having weekend warrior syndrome
Weekend warrior syndrome means you do not exercise at all during the week and exhaust all your strength and effort in an all-out workout on weekends. Exercise is important but it should be slow and steady. It’s more important to have regular exercise than exercising just on a specific day.
7. Binge drinking alcohol
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is bad for the heart. Heavy drinking can increase the risk of various health problems such as liver disease and heart disease. Too much alcohol may lead to cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle. Aside from these, high alcohol use can raise your blood pressure, which can lead to stroke and heart attack.
8. Eating too much
Being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for heart disease. One cause of gaining weight is overeating. Try to eat less and avoid large or oversized portions. Also, overeating is a heart attack trigger.
9. Denying you’re at risk
Assuming you’re not at risk may jeopardize your health. Everyone is at risk of certain diseases, especially if the condition runs in the family. However, if you’re proactive when it comes to your health, you can prevent the development of heart disease. People who deny having certain risk factors may continue with the bad habits and avoid getting medical help. These may increase the likelihood of heart disease.
10. Eating red meat
Red meat should be considered occasional treats, rather than the foundation of your daily meals. Red meat is high in saturated fat, which is bad for the heart. Try to eat a variety of healthy foods each day and avoid eating too much red meat.
11. Not getting checked for health risks
Some people procrastinate medical consultations because they do not feel any physical symptoms. Always have regular check ups, especially if you have a family history of heart disease. Getting your cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood sugar levels checked will help you promote heart health and prevent certain diseases.
12. Smoking cigarettes or living with someone who smokes
Smoking cigarettes or inhaling second-hand smoke may increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Smoking damages the lining of the arteries, leading to the build-up of a fatty material that narrows the passageway of blood. This may cause various health conditions such as angina, heart attack and even stroke.
13. Stopping or not taking medicines prescribed by the physician
Taking the prescribed medicines for hypertension or diabetes is helpful in preventing heart disease. Yes, taking pills can be painful, especially if you are not into taking them each day. However, they’re called maintenance drugs for a reason. They need to be taken every day – with or without your symptoms. Stopping or not taking these medicines may worsen your condition and may lead to heart problems.
14. Skipping fruits and vegetables
The most heart-healthy diet is a plant-based diet. Eating ample amounts of fruits and vegetables are good for the heart. Studies have shown that eating more than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by as much as 20 percent.
15. Ignoring the physical symptoms
If you suddenly feel some symptoms that weren’t there before, you should call your doctor immediately. For instance, you’re exercising or running and you suddenly become short of breath or you feel chest pressure, you might be suffering from a heart attack, which needs urgent care.
16. Being a salty snacker
Increased intake of salty foods like chips and processed food products may raise your risk of heart disease. Increased salt intake has been linked to hypertension, a condition that may take a toll on your heart.
17. Consuming empty calories
Consuming empty calories like foods high in sugar and fats may affect your heart. Aside from affecting the heart, empty calories have been linked to obesity and diabetes, which are both risk factors for heart problems.
Do you have these bad habits? It’s time to take a look at your health and schedule a doctor’s appointment right away. There’s no harm in making sure your heart is in good shape.
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