If You’re Making These Everyday Mistakes, You May Be Destroying Your Heart

Keeping our hearts healthy is important to our overall well being. But cardiovascular disease is still affecting one in three adults across America. Worryingly still, many of us are guilty of indulging in habits that are bad for our hearts. While some of them may surprise you, changing our lifestyles will inevitably help our tickers to keep ticking over.

40. Depression

It’s fair to say that your mood can have a surprising impact on your overall health. And being depressed can actually increase your chances of developing heart disease. As the Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Leopoldo Pozuelo explained to Eat This, Not That!, “Patients with depression have been shown to have increased platelet reactivity, decreased heart variability and increased proinflammatory markers, which are all risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”

39. Not getting enough exercise

Daily exercise is one of the best ways to keep our hearts healthy. That’s right, because like any muscle, our tickers need regular use to stay strong and work properly. According to Dr. Meagan Wasfy from Massachusetts General Hospital, “Think of exercise as an insurance policy that may offer both short – and long-term protection for your heart. In essence, you’re training your heart to be more resilient.”

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38. Sitting for hours

If your idea of relaxation after a day at the office involves the sofa, you could be sitting down too much. Indeed, spending a lot of time on our butts increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes, according to Health.com. What’s more, regular exercise doesn’t counteract the effects of sitting for hours, so it’s best to keep moving throughout the day.

37. Alcohol

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Some studies have suggested that consuming a small amount of booze might be beneficial to our hearts. However, drinking too much can lead to high blood fat levels, high blood pressure and heart failure. Furthermore, the high calorie content of booze can contribute to weight gain, which is also bad for the heart.

36. Too much red meat

Because of its high levels of saturated fats, red meat ups your risk of bowel cancer and heart disease. With that in mind, red meat should really only be consumed as an occasional indulgence, rather than on a daily basis. For a healthy heart, a balanced diet is key. And some doctors advise that animal products should form less than 10 percent of our eating regimes.

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35. Bottling up emotions

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Negative emotions like depression, hostility and stress can have a detrimental effect on our hearts. And keeping such feelings to ourselves can be even worse. In 2017 expert Dr. Harmony R. Reynolds told Health.com, “Those likely to internalize stress are in greater danger; research has shown a benefit to laughter and social support.”

34. Avoiding your doctor

Regular medical check ups are important for keeping track of our blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. You see, if your levels are high, you’re more at risk of having a stroke, diabetes or heart disease. So the sooner you know, the quicker you can make changes that will help you to keep your heart healthy.

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33. Smoking

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We all know that smoking can have a terrible impact on our health, but it puts our heart particularly at risk. That’s because lighting up can lead to blood clots and inhibiting the flow of blood to the heart, says Health.com. And don’t forget that it causes plaque deposits in our arteries, too. So, as cardiologist Dr. Robert Ostfeld put it, “Smoking is a total disaster for your heart.”

32. Overeating

Given that being overweight greatly increases your risk of developing heart disease, overeating can negatively impact our cardiovascular health. So to keep our tickers in check, doctors recommend eating smaller portions and swapping our sodas for good old water. And let’s not forget to reduce our intake of high-calorie carbs, such as pasta and bread.

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31. Skipping meds

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So if you’re on medication for high blood pressure, it’s important to keep on taking those pills. And don’t be tricked into thinking negatively because you can’t tell if they’re working. As Dr. Ostfeld explained to Health.com, “High blood pressure is called the silent killer because you don’t feel it… Saying you feel fine is not a justification for stopping these pills.”

30. Dodging fruit and vegetables

Consuming over five servings of fruit and veg per day reduces your risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease by 20 percent. This is when compared to those who eat under three servings a day, according to research. As Dr. Ostfeld explained to Health.com, “The most heart-healthy diet is a plant-based diet.” That means one that is also rich in nuts, protein and whole grains, as well as fruits and vegetables.

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29. Snoring

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Snoring isn’t just annoying to the people we share a bed with. No, it can also be a symptom of something more sinister, namely sleep apnea. Now, this disorder is characterized by interrupted breathing during sleep. However, it can also lead to high blood pressure, therefore increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. So if you’re worried about your snoring, it’s best to speak to a doctor.

28. Salty snacks

Our salt intake is linked directly to our blood pressure; The more we consume, the higher it becomes. So to stay healthy, most of us should have no more than 2,300 milligrams of salt per day (one teaspoon). But if you’re over the age of 50 or experience high blood pressure, cut this down to 1,500 milligrams.

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27. Neglecting your gums

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Doctors aren’t exactly sure why, but there is evidence of a connection between gum disease and cardiovascular disease. Now, gum disease is caused by a buildup of bacteria-filled plaque. And it could be that these germs lead to inflammation in the rest of the body. So it seems that brushing and flossing regularly is good news for more than just our smiles.

26. Ignoring symptoms

Shortness of breath and chest pressure can both be signs of an ailing heart. So if you experience either, its best to get checked out by a doctor, just to be on the safe side. As Dr. Ostfeld told Health.com, “It’s better for it to be much ado about nothing than sitting on a heart attack for six hours.”

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25. Isolation

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It seems that having healthy relationships with our fellow humans is good for us. That’s because people who have strong bonds with friends, family members and communities tend to be healthier and live longer. For instance, they may be more likely to exercise with others, discuss problems, and laugh a little. So while we all need some alone time, interactions with other people are better medicine than we perhaps thought.

24. Not sleeping enough

Speaking of good medicines, sleep is probably one of the most powerful remedies we have at our disposal. Yes, studies show that those sleeping less than six hours per night are 79 percent more at risk of heart disease. And this research compares to those who get seven hours of shut-eye. So it’s official – sleeping in could actually be good for our health – but that’s not permission to miss work!

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23. Over exertion

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When it comes to getting fit, it’s important to give our bodies time to adapt. Otherwise, we might put ourselves off working out for good. Cardiovascular expert Dr. Judith S. Hochman told Health.com, “I see so many people in their 40s and 50s dive into exercising with good intentions, hurt themselves, and then stop exercising all together.”

22. You have no spinal flexibility

Yoga-enthusiasts have long professed the many advantages of the practice. But one of the most beneficial is spinal flexibility. For there are studies that suggest suppleness in the spine is linked to the flexibility of major arteries. So it seems that good spinal flexibility could be considered a symptom of cardiovascular health.

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21. Sugar drinks

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We’ve already mentioned that eating well goes hand-in-hand with a strong heart. However, one of the worst offenders when it comes to diet isn’t a food item, but a sugary drink. Indeed, a study of over 300,000 people found that such drinks up our risk of heart attack or stroke. And it only gets worse the more sugary drinks we consume. However, it might not just be the drink that’s doing the damage. No – it could be, for instance, the hamburger or cigarette you like to enjoy alongside it.

20. Thinking diet sodas are healthy

While the health conscious may have ditched soft drinks in favor of “diet” versions, they’re actually not much better for us. And what’s more, they too could cause heart problems. Shockingly, one study revealed that women drinking two or more diet sodas per day are more at risk of death. So the lesson is don’t soda “pop”your life away.

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19. Stress

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Stress has long been associated with heart disease, but it seems many of us cannot escape the strains of everyday life. And if anything, the world has got less relaxing as a result of technological advances, which means we’re always switched on. Therefore, to help our hearts, it’s important that we take some chill out time each and every day.

18. Processed meats

Like red meats, processed meats such as sausages and bacon can have a detrimental impact on our health. For one, they’re high in salt and saturated fats, meaning they can lead to high blood pressure and cholesterol. Furthermore, in recent years, the World Health Organization confirmed that such foods can cause colon cancer.

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17. Not sweating enough

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It may not be pretty, but sweating is actually good for us. Yes, the process can help our bodies to expel damaging metals like lead and mercury, which we often ingest without realizing. So to get rid of harmful toxins, some studies recommend exercising regularly or hitting an infrared sauna.

16. Passive smoking

Even if you don’t smoke yourself, hanging out with people who do can put an unnecessary burden on your heart. In fact, data suggests that 46,000 nonsmokers die of heart disease every year, caused by living with a smoker. So if you value your health, ask your loved ones not to light up around you.

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15. Skipping sex

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Fornication can be beneficial to our health in a number of ways, including for our hearts. Indeed, the activity is known to send our blood pressure and heart rate soaring. However, studies have shown that the more often you get jiggy , the lower your chances of having a heart event.

14. Deep fried food

They may taste good, but a number of studies have found that eating fried foods increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. And that’s because some frying methods create trans fats, which increase bad cholesterol. For instance, in 2017 cardiology professor Dr. Regina Druz told Time, “If you’re making a veggie stir-fry at home and you’re preparing it with olive oil and coconut oil, there’s certainly nothing wrong with that… But what most people understand as typical fried food, the kinds you don’t prepare at home, should certainly be avoided.”

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13. Money worries

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According to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, financial troubles could have an effect on heart health. Yes, author Dr. Cheryl Clark of Brigham and Women’s Hospital revealed, “We found that psychological feelings of stress due to finances were related to the onset of heart disease, such as heart attacks and procedures used to treat heart attacks – even when other issues like access to care, or difficulty affording medications were considered.”

12. Caffeine

Consuming caffeine can lead to a big increase in blood pressure over a short amount of time. However, this spike can last permanently in some people. So if caffeine gives you heart palpitations, it could be a sign that your heart is working over time. And sadly, this can eventually lead to heart disease.

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11. Sugar

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We were once told that fat was the biggest cause of cardiovascular disease in our diets. But in 2016 a report by JAMA Internal Medicine revealed the sugar industry had funded the majority of those studies. Now some experts claim that sugar heavy diets are just as bad, leading to diabetes, high cholesterol and inflammation.

10. Commuting

Many of us will be familiar with the regular inconvenience of the daily commute. However, we are probably unaware of the negative impact this can have on our hearts. That’s because stressful journeys raise our heart rate, and sitting down for a long time doesn’t help, either. Therefore, cycling or walking to work are the best bets.

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9. Getting angry

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Getting angry causes a surge of stress hormones in our body, causing our heart rate and blood pressure to soar. Not only that, but as Dr. Murray A. Mittleman from Harvard Medical School told Eat This, Not That!, “It also makes your blood more likely to clot, which is especially dangerous if your arteries are narrowed by cholesterol-laden plaque.”

8. Lack of fiber

Not only is fiber good for our digestive systems, but it also gives our hearts a hug, too. For a study in the Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing found that, “An increasing number of observational findings have reported a lower incidence of coronary heart disease in subjects who report consuming diets high in fiber. Dietary fiber is thought to affect several cardiovascular disease risk factors.”

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7. Skipping breakfast

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We’re told time and time again that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And it seems that is most definitely the case when it comes to protecting our heart health. According to a study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology those who skip breakfast increase their risk of heart disease. What’s more, starting the day with a healthy meal can keep our appetites at bay and help us to avoid overeating.

6. Cereal

But while breakfast is certainly an important part of the day, you may want to avoid reaching for a sugary cereal. As Dr. Druz told Time, “Eating refined carbohydrates and sugars in the morning is going to produce inflammation and make blood sugar go up and down, so you’ll crave more sugar throughout the day.”

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5. Pizza

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This one may be hard to swallow, but the American Heart Association lists pizza as one of its “salty six” foods. And second only to cured meats and cold cuts, the Italian treat is jam-packed with saturated fat and salt. So while veggie pizza fairs better than most, you should limit yourself to two slices to look after your heart.

4. Ignoring that “spare tire”

Carrying an extra few pounds around your middle heightens your risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular events. As Dr. Barbara Kahn from Harvard Medical School explained to Eat This, Not That!, “There are many studies showing that an unfavorable waist-to-hip ratio is highly associated with diabetes and cardiovascular risk.”

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3. Margarine

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The jury is still out on the heart-related risks of saturated fats, including butter. However, the science community seems to agree that trans fats – found in margarines – do increase one’s chances of heart disease. Often, it is margarine sold in a solid, stick format that contain these fats. So stick to softer versions to be safe.

2. Being overweight

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, being overweight is almost like a domino effect. For it often goes hand-in-hand with high blood sugar, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. And our hearts have to work overtime to deal with these issues, which can eventually cause a heart attack, or stroke.

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1. Assuming you’re safe

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One of the worst things you can do is to think that cardiovascular issues won’t happen to you. In fact, they claim more lives across the U.S. than any other illness, even cancer. So, in his interview with Health.com, Dr. Ostfeld urged, “Don’t assume you’re not at risk.”

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