6 bad habits for heart health

Posted on February 18, 2015 by Brynna Gabrielson

Bad habits for heart healthMore than 7 million people in the UK suffer from Cardiovascular Disease (any condition that affects the heart and circulation, including coronary heart disease, heart attack, heart disease, and stroke), and a quarter of yearly deaths can be attributed to it1. From eating poorly and not flossing to smoking and not managing stress, there are many things we do that can put our hearts in danger. Below we've put together a list of bad habits that could be hurting your heart health.

You don't get enough sleep

We all know that losing sleep makes us irritable, but did you know that it can actually have an impact on your heart health? Studies have linked lack of sleep with increased risk of both heart attack and stroke2.  Experts are unsure exactly why sleep deprivation impacts heart health, but the statistics are worrying enough to not be ignored, with those who sleep less than six hours per night being two times more likely to experience a heart attack or stroke.

You don't take care of your teeth

While a hard link has yet to be determined between the two, experts believe there to be a connection between dental health and cardiovascular disease. It's thought the link could be due to inflammation, an issue that is key to both gum disease and heart disease3. At Simplyhealth we're interested in finding out more about the possible link between dental and heart health and for the past two years have been funding a study with Heart Research UK. Recently released findings have revealed that incidence of ineffective endocarditis, an infection of the heart with potentially fatal consequences, have shown a significant increase since 2008 when NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) recommended the cessation of providing antibiotics to at risk dental patients4.

You smoke

We all know that smoking is bad for us. From lung cancer to emphysema the side effects are numerous, and it's no surprise that smoking can be detrimental for heart health. In fact it's so bad the British Heart Foundation states on their website that quitting smoking can be the single best thing you can do for your heart5. With approximately 22,000 of deaths from cardiovascular disease being attributed to smoking each year6, quitting does seem like good advice! Why is smoking so bad for your heart? It causes the arteries to be narrowed, leading to heart attacks and strokes. It also reduces the oxygen levels in our blood, making the heart pump that much harder, and can lead to blot clots which cause heart attacks and strokes.  For information on quitting smoking visit: https://quitnow.smokefree.nhs.uk/

You drink too much

The relationship between alcohol and heart health isn't always clear. For many years it has been reported that light to moderate drinking can actually benefit your heart, but studies released in 2014 say this isn't actually true7. Whether drinking has a positive effect on your heart or not, it can definitely have a negative one. It's recommended that women consume no more than 2-3 units of alcohol per day, while men shouldn't consume more than 3-48. If you regularly overindulge above these limits there can be bad consequences for your heart health due to increased blood pressure and weakening of the heart muscle.

You don't manage your weight

In the UK a staggering 64% of adults are considered to be overweight or obese9. Heart problems are among the many issues that arise for adults with a high Body Mass Index (BMI). Being obese can lead to the development of diabetes which can dramatically increase the chance of developing Cardiovascular Disease. Sadly 65% of those with diabetes die from heart disease and stroke10. Even if you don't have diabetes, being obese can still lead to heart issues such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The good news is that losing even just a small amount of weight can help improve heart function11.

You're always angry

Outbursts of anger have been identified as a risk factor in having a heart attack and stroke. A study found that in the two hours after an outburst the chances of having a heart attack increased by five times and the chances of having a stroke increased by three times12.  The risk is low for those who infrequently experience outbursts, but grows for those who experience more frequent outburst.

1 https://www.bhf.org.uk/~/media/files/research/heart-statistics/cardiovascular-disease-statistics¿headline-statistics.pdf
2 http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-news/how-sleep-deprivation-affects-your-heart
3 http://www.webmd.boots.com/oral-health/guide/healthy-teeth-healthy-heart
4 http://newsroom.simplyhealth.co.uk/facebook-campaign-leads-to-heart-health-insights
5 https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/risk-factors/smoking
6 https://www.bhf.org.uk/~/media/files/research/heart-statistics/cardiovascular-disease-statistics¿headline-statistics.pdf
7 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2688161/Moderate-drinking-IS-bad-health-Just-two-glasses-wine-day-cause-problems.html
8 https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/check-the-facts/health-effects-of-alcohol/effects-on-the-body/alcohol-and-heart-disease/
9 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-25576400
10 http://ndep.nih.gov/media/CVD_FactSheet.pdf
11 https://medicine.wustl.edu/news/headlines/moderate-weight-loss-improves-heart-health/
12 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-26416153