Lifestyle choices may account for more than 90 percent of heart attack risk, according to new research. And even small changes can make a big impact.
I saw a great post from Healthline that identifies six of the worst habits for your heart and looks at how to turn them around.
Too much TV
- People who spend four or more hours per day on screen-based entertainment have double the risk of a cardiac event vs. those who spend two hours or less in front of the tube.
- The risk of dying prematurely is much greater for those who are heavy screen watchers, even if they also exercised.
- Recent research also shows that too much sitting can be just as bad for your heart as smoking. (I hope you’re walking around reading this post on your mobile phone.) I’m tempted to start scheduling more meetings while walking. Seriously.
- A Harvard review of 200 previous studies found that an optimistic outlook might cut heart disease and stroke danger by 50 percent.
- The association between an upbeat attitude and reduced cardiovascular risk held true even when they took the person’s age, weight, smoking status, and other risk factors into account.
- Frequent loud snoring can trumpet obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a dangerous disorder that magnifies heart attack and stroke risk, if untreated.
- Ask your doctor about a sleep study if you are waking at night for no apparent reason or have unexplained daytime drowsiness.
- Research from the National Institutes of Health and American Association of Retired People found that people age 50 and older who ate the most fiber were up to 60 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, infectious diseases and respiratory ailments, compare to those who ate the least.
- Another study showed that eating eight servings of fruits and vegetables a day trims the risk of a fatal heart attack by 22 percent, compared to eating less than three.
Failing to Floss
- One theory is that the same bacteria that trigger gum disease may also spark inflammation inside the body, damaging arteries. I’ve seen other research lately disputing this as a clear link, but still….this link seems to make sense.
- A 17-year-study published in Journal of Aging Research showed those who never flossed were 30 percent more likely to die than were those who flossed daily.
Smoking Even a Little
- Some statistics show that smoking even one cigarette a day increases the threat of heart attack by 63 percent and smoking 20 or more cigarettes a day more than quadruples it.
- Tobacco use also boosts risk for diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and many types of cancer.
These are great reminders. Sometimes it’s hard to realize how much even small changes matter.