Chances are you don’t sit around thinking about your heart risk. I mean, who does that?
Sure, you may worry about your heart health from time to time. Like when you’re about to devour that “heart-attack-on-a-plate” meal of fried chicken and French fries. Or when you’re chasing your grandkid around the yard and find yourself gasping for air and in need of a break.
But until we have a confirmed heart problem most of us don’t give our ticker a lot of thought.And it turns out that the obvious risks might not be the ones you need to worry about the most.
Surprising heart risk triggers you NEED to know
Following are five things you’ll be stunned to learn experts say could DOUBLE your heart risk.
1. Poor sleep:
You’re probably vaguely aware that not sleeping enough or sleeping poorly isn’t the best for your health. But researchers say it’s far worse than that.
Shortchanging your sleep can raise your risk for all kinds of health problems from obesity to diabetes. But shockingly, scientists say if you’re a guy, who regularly clocks in at under five hours of sleep a night you could be doubling your heart risk.
The long-term Swedish study followed a group of middle-aged men for 21 years. When the researchers crunched the numbers, they found the guys who consistently slept less than five hours a night were twice as likely to develop heart disease.
And it’s not the first time we’ve seen a connection between sleep problems and heart problems. An earlier WHO study found poor sleep was associated with double the heart attack risk and quadruple the stroke risk
The solution: Commit to more quality shut-eye. Call it a night earlier. Turn off electronics at least an hour before bed. Keep the bedroom dark and on the cool side. Use a natural sleep aid such as valerian or melatonin to get you back on a healthy sleep schedule. And talk with your doctor if you suspect you may have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.
You’d have to be living under a rock or been in a coma not to be aware soda isn’t good for you. But you probably didn’t realize that a two can a day habit could send your heart risk soaring.
Researchers at Emory University found that folks who drank at least two sodas a day had double the risk of dying from heart disease. And while we know sugary foods are harmful too, the doubled risk didn’t show up in folks who had a sweet tooth.
Experts theorize it has to do with how the sugar enters the body. When you eat food that contains a lot of sugar the fats and proteins slow down the release of the sugar into your body. But when you swig down a soda, the sugar slams your system all at once.
The solution: Go cold turkey on the soda. Swap it for something healthier such as fruit infused water, tea, or black coffee.
3. Living alone:
There’s a growing stack of evidence that loneliness puts us at risk for a laundry list of health issues. And studies have found that one of the best things we can do for our health and longevity is to surround ourselves with family and friends, especially as we get older.
But researchers say living alone could double your heart risk. The link was uncovered in a large study conducted at Aarhus Sygehus University Hospital in Aarhus, Denmark. And it gets worse.
The scientists compiled data on over 138,000 folks. A group of 646 eventually developed a form of heart disease called acute coronary syndrome. Men over the age of 50 and women over 60 accounted for a staggering 96 percent of all deaths within a month of diagnosis. Yet they only made up eight percent of the whole group studied.
The solution: If you live alone either by choice or because you lost a partner make an effort to reach out. Have people over, meet for lunch, and stay in touch. Consider joining groups or volunteering to get yourself out of the house and socializing more. And consider adopting a pet for some companionship.
4. Working out too much:
This heart harmer one always produces the biggest, “say what?!?” moments from folks. After all, everyone knows exercise is great for our overall health. And it’s terrific for our hearts specifically.
So what gives?
Well, the key part of the phrase is “too MUCH.” Because of course, exercise is good for you. But like with most things take it to the extreme and help can turn to harm. And while over-exercising doesn’t quite double the risk, for a particular group, it comes close.
According to a study published in the journal, Mayo Clinic Proceedings if you’re white, male and exercise over seven and a half hours a week, you’re 86 percent more likely to die an early heart-linked death.
Men in this group were nearly twice as likely to develop heart-harming plaques in their arteries.
The solution: This is an easy one. If you’re a guy who is spending over seven hours in the gym a week, just cut back.
5. Standing too much:
In the past few years, we’ve learned quite a bit about the dangers of sitting too much. In fact, I’ve written about it here in Healthier Talk before. And I’ve encouraged you to unseat your seat more often on many occasions.
Study after study has highlighted the dangers of being sedentary. So it’s really no wonder that standing desks have become very popular in the last few years. It seems like the perfect solution for folks who are stuck in an office all day.
But it turns out standing desks may have a dark side too. Experts call it “static standing.” And it can have its own set of complications. It’s associated with back problems and other musculoskeletal issues. And according to researchers, it could harm our heart health too.
The trouble is when we stand still in one spot for long periods of time blood can begin to pool in our legs. This can put pressure on our veins and cause oxidative stress. As a result, when taken to the extreme prolonged standing can double your heart risk according to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
The solution: It’s still harmful to sit for hours on end. Instead, follow the advice we’ve been giving all along. Get up and move more. When talking on the phone pace. If watching do something active during commercials. For every hour of sitting, you should plan in a five-minute break to move around. And if you use a standing desk switch between standing and sitting more often.
If you’re like most folks and don’t think about your heart risk, it’s time to change that. Don’t let these five unexpected things put YOUR heart in danger.