Heart disease remains a top cause of death globally. Unhealthy lifestyle habits, poor diet, lack of exercise, and several other factors can significantly increase your risk of developing this disease.
You might think that it’s a condition that strikes only the elderly, but it can affect anyone, regardless of age. Regularly engaging in certain habits can increase your risk of heart disease. Recognizing and understanding these habits is the first step toward a healthier heart.
Before diving into the habits that may increase your risk of heart disease, it’s crucial to understand what heart disease actually is.
What is Heart Disease
Heart disease, usually referred to as cardiovascular disease, encompasses a spectrum of conditions that affect your heart. In particular, these conditions include diseases of the blood vessels, such as heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias), coronary artery disease, heart infections, and conditions that affect your heart’s muscles, valves, or beating rhythm.
Habits That May Increase Your Risk of Heart Disease
Yes, a sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, sitting for long periods can result in reduced physical activity, which is linked to heart disease.
Instead, aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. Don’t neglect physical activity, as it can help to maintain a healthy heart.
The food you eat plays a crucial role in heart health. If you regularly consume high-fat, high-sodium, and high-sugar foods, it can result in high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity. All these conditions are significant risk factors for heart disease.
Therefore, switch to a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Along with exercise, a healthy diet can substantially reduce your risk of heart disease.
Excessive Alcohol Consumption
You might not realize this, but excessive alcohol consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Regularly consuming large quantities of alcohol can result in high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat.
According to health experts, limit your drinking to moderate levels. For men, this means up to two drinks per day, and for women, one drink per day.
Yes, you’ve probably heard this a million times before, but it bears repeating. Smoking is one of the most dangerous habits for your heart. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one out of every four heart-related deaths is caused by smoking.
Regularly inhaling tobacco smoke introduces toxins into your body that affect your blood pressure and blood clotting as well as increase your risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
To help prevent this, make an effort to quit smoking. The benefits are almost immediate and continue to increase the longer you stay smoke-free.
Lack of Quality Sleep
Often, we underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep. However, sleep deprivation can result in higher cortisol levels, which increase your heart rate and blood pressure.
It’s easy to get too busy for quality sleep but make an effort. The American Heart Association recommends adults aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
Stress is another factor that can raise your heart disease risk. If not managed, it can lead to high blood pressure, overeating, and other health issues.
To curb this habit, take your time to relax and practice stress-relieving activities like yoga, meditation, or walking in nature. Regular scheduling of these activities can greatly contribute to a healthier heart.
The next time you think about your health, remember that your heart is at the center of it all. Avoid habits that put your heart at risk.
Adopt healthy lifestyle changes such as regular physical activity, a nutritious diet, moderate alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, getting adequate sleep, and managing stress levels. Remember, a healthy heart can lead to a healthy life. Don’t neglect it.
Further Reading: 6 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease