5 Surprising Ways You Could Be Harming Your Heart

Over 647,000 Americans die from heart disease each year. Prevention is the key to a long and healthy life. Most of us know some of the most basic heart disease prevention steps, such as getting plenty of exercise and eliminating fatty foods from our diets. But the majority of us are still doing things that could harm our cardiovascular health without even realizing it. Check out these five surprising ways you could be harming your heart. 

1. Rush Hour Traffic

Being stopped on the freeway at a dead standstill is nerve-wracking in itself. But worrying about getting to a destination on time, especially work or an appointment, can also trigger abrupt anger. This anger has been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks. 

One study found that those stuck in traffic had a 3.2 higher risk of experiencing a heart attack. Although air pollution may also be to blame, traffic has been found to raise blood pressure and heart rate, affecting cardiovascular health. 

Before hitting the road when you know a traffic backup might be possible, consider planning ahead for how you might allow extra time to keep yourself calm. Maybe also consider these ideas:

  • Leave a little earlier just to save time. 
  • Look for detours in advance to have a backup plan.
  • Play relaxing music in the vehicle.
  • Practice some mindfulness techniques to help ground racing thoughts and reduce stress. 

Reducing the strain of traffic can be difficult, but it may also be necessary.

2. Poor Stress Management

We are often mentioning the problems with chronic stress so it should come as no surprise to learn that chronic stress can negatively affect heart health. Letting worries overtake thoughts throughout the day and before sleep can cause the mind to race and the heart, too. The way a person rationalizes racing and out-of-control thoughts  helps them develop a mindset that can lead to higher stress levels, too. 

Finding ways to reduce stress is imperative for the body, mind and heart all at once. Incorporating exercise into each day can help us decompress. Daily meditation has shown itself to be a valuable practice in this area as well. And of course, eating a well-balanced diet is also beneficial. Taking frequent breaks throughout the workday and making time for hobbies and pleasure are also essential for stress management. 

3. Not Visiting the Dentist

Our dental health has a direct effect on our heart health. It can be easy to brush our dental visits under the rug, but doing so can harm heart health. Bacteria and germs build up on the teeth and gum line, making their way into the bloodstream. As a result, these foreign materials can affect the heart, leading to inflammation and heart disease. 

Practicing proper dental hygiene and regularly visiting the dentist can help keep our whites pearly — and our hearts in tip-top shape!

4. Listening to Super Loud Music

Going to concerts, listening to music through loud headphones and blaring the car stereo at high decibels are favorite pastimes for avid music listeners. While invigorating and a great stress reliever, loud music can lead to hearing damage and eventually hearing loss. What does this have to do with the heart?

A recent study found a correlation between hearing loss and coronary artery disease. While other factors contribute to underlying heart disease, it may be worth proceeding with caution when it comes to jamming out. 

5. Consuming Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose are the main choices of many who are avoiding sugar and blood glucose fluctuations. While they can help people avoid added calories in their diet, could they damage the heart? 

Studies have indicated that consuming sodas and drinks with artificial sweeteners may increase the risk for heart disease and long-term damage. A solution? Stop drinking sodas and replace them with water or a healthy alternative like tea.

To keep the heart happy and healthy, we have to be aware of our lifestyle choices. From eating to exercise, and many things in between, everything we do contributes to our heart health — good and bad. The good news? We’re never too old to make positive changes and they really do add up over time. By making better choices, we may safeguard our hearts so they can keep us living our most active and rewarding lives for longer. 

Copyright 2021, Wellness.com

7/3/2022 4:00:00 AM
Wellness Editor
Written by Wellness Editor
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