Maybe you’re just trying to be the “healthiest you” you can be. Or perhaps a scare such a heart attack inspired you.
Either way, if you’ve already taken steps to protect your heart, and improve your heart health, that’s great!
Unfortunately, you could still be hurting your heart even if you don’t realize it.
Hidden heart health killers
Giving up smoking, changing your diet and exercising are all critical steps to taking care of your ticker.
But don’t let these other five habits secretly sabotage your heart health.
1. Too little sleep:
Your body needs regular, good quality rest to function well. Cutting corners on sleep won’t cut it. No matter how much caffeine you take in, or deep breathing exercises you do, you still need to put in enough time in the sack to be your best, and maintain your heart health.
Researchers at the Cardiovascular Performance Clinic in Michigan are very clear: nothing takes the place of actual sleep. When you don’t get a full seven to nine hours of sleep at night, it triggers a domino effect.
First, your adrenaline jumps, which produces stress hormones. This in turn increases your blood pressure and heart rate. Over time, high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate leads to heart damage.
Don’t confuse feeling awake with having had enough rest. Get your seven to nine hours a night to protect your heart.
2. You ONLY brush:
Brushing your teeth is only the first step in a good oral hygiene routine. To protect your heart health (and your teeth) you need to floss at least once a day, as well.
Some experts believe the bacteria in the plaque that builds up when you don’t floss can slip into your bloodstream and harm your heart. Plus the bugs could trigger body wide inflammation, including in and around your heart.
Flossing is an easy habit to get into. And it can make such a big difference for your heart health, that it’s one well worth picking up.
3. Breathe bad air:
Air pollution isn’t just bad for your lungs. It turns out breathing bad air harms your heart health too.
A ten-year study published in The Lancet found breathing polluted air increased plaque build-up in the heart and arteries. Other research has revealed toxic air is behind at least five to seven percent of all heart attacks.
There’s not a lot you can do about how polluted the air in your hometown is. But some simple changes at home can help protect your lungs and heart from bad air.
- Exercise inside (or away from traffic) whenever possible.
- Consider using an air purifier in your home.
- Reduce your commute time and overall time spent on the road.
- Avoid burning candles and using air fresheners.
- Don’t burn trash or wood.
- Ban smoking in your home and car
Breathing in cleaner air, and avoiding the bad air, will go a long way towards protecting your heart.
4. You live (or work) where it’s loud:
If you spend a lot of time around excessively loud noises such as jack hammers, engines, or drills you may have more than just hearing loss. You might have heart damage too.
A study published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that folks with noise related hearing loss were two to four times more likely to have heart disease too.
Experts say the constant noise can cause your stress hormones to climb to dangerous levels. Constantly spiking adrenaline drives up heart rate and blood pressure. And cortisol triggers blood sugar spikes. Over time, these sky high hormone levels can harm your heart health.
If you can’t avoid being around the noise at least invest in good ear protection.
5. You snore:
Heavy snoring doesn’t just keep your wife or husband awake. It can also be a symptom of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing repeatedly in your sleep. This raises your blood pressure, and puts an extra strain on your heart.
Waking up tired no matter how many hours of sleep you get is a classic sign of sleep apnea. So is waking up with a headache most mornings. If this sounds like you, call your doctor. More than 18 million people have heart health damaging sleep apnea. Don’t leave it undiagnosed any longer.
Make heart health a top priority. Keep up the heart healthy diet and exercise. But be sure to work on correcting these other surprising heart-harming habits too.