5 Unexpected Habits That Damage Heart Health

5 Unexpected Habits That Damage Heart Health

Out of all the organs in the body, the heart is one you should be paying attention to. According to WHO, cardiovascular disease is the leading causes of death globally. The illnesses vary from coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatic heart disease and other conditions. More than four out of five CVD deaths are due to heart attacks and strokes and one third of these deaths occur prematurely in people under 70 years of age. Unexpectedly, heart diseases can happen due to habits that we amass when we were younger.

Here are habits to avoid for a healthy heart:

  1. Too Much Anger

Getting angry is a normal, human thing we all do. Yet being angry takes a toll on your heart and body. The reason is because when you’re angry, the nervous system goes into overdrive, your body releases hormones that lead to elevated blood pressure and heart rate, putting added stress on the cardiovascular system.

What’s more, regular bouts of anger can also weaken your immune system, possibly leading to more infections, ​and​ chronically angry people tend to suffer from more anxiety and depression, which are linked to heart disease and a shorter lifespan. The only thing you can do is to learn how to calm down when you’re angry and how to manage your feelings in healthy ways. Some of the things you can do include exercise, meditation or therapy.

  1. Stress

Another habit that can affect your heart is when you are stressing too much. Stress spurs the body to release adrenaline, which temporarily affects how your body functions. When there is adrenaline in the body, your heart rate increases and your blood pressure. As time goes on, too much stress can damage blood vessels in the heart and increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.

To minimize the harmful effects of stress, the AHA (American Heart Association) recommends plenty of tips. First, is to relieve yourself of the stress you are experiencing by sharing your feelings to a trusted friend or family member. Exercise is also another way to relieve mental tension. Try to aim for about 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days of the week. Other than that, avoid the rush of having to do everything by planning your day and prioritizing tasks.

  1. Overdoing It on Salt

When it comes to food, be aware of how much salt you put in that bowl of soup. Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure which increases risk for heart disease. Salt is not only the problem, however, but the sodium is something we should all watch out for. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) reports that processed foods like canned vegetables and soups, lunch meats, frozen dinners, chips, and other salty snacks are foods that fulfill the daily salt content. You can limit the salt and sodium content by reading nutrition labels and comparing products, choosing the one with the lowest percent daily value for sodium. As a rule of thumb, the AHA recommends less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day.

  1. Not Enough Sleep

Sleep is important for the heart, body and mind. It is when the body shuts down and gets its much needed rest after a day of working hard. Depending on your phase of sleep, the heart also goes along with it. Your heart rate and blood pressure dip during the first phase of sleep (the non-REM phase), then rise and fall in response to your dreams during the second phase (REM sleep). These changes throughout the night seem to promote cardiovascular health, according to the NHLBI (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute).

When you are deprived of sleep, it can lead to high resting cortisol and adrenaline levels, similar to levels that you experience in a stressful situation. The recommended amount is as such: adults get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night, while teens and young adults should get 9 to 10 hours.

  1. Overindulging in Alcohol

Too much alcohol in your system affects your body negatively. The heart is one of the organs that will be affected if you consume alcohol too much, for a long period of time. Some of the effects include high blood pressure, stroke, and obesity — all of which increase your risk for heart disease. Not only that, but the AHA reports that excessive drinking (more than two drinks a day for men and one drink for women) can interrupt normal heart rhythm and therefore cause heart failure. Of course, it’s perfectly fine to enjoy the occasional cocktail or glass of wine, but you would be wiser to protect your heart by sticking to the AHA guidelines.

Which habit above intrigues you the most? Tell us your opinion in the comments section below!