The new year is here, which means another fresh start towards improving your heart health. Whether you’re planning to jump into a new exercise routine or eat smarter for overall wellness, there are plenty of opportunities to improve or maintain your health. Though aside from the habits you would like or need to form to keep your heart in the best shape possible, there are a few habits that you should also avoid with equal tenacity.
This blog outlines a few of the habits that could spell trouble for your cardiovascular health and, should you have any of them, need to be brought in line as soon as possible.
Not only does smoking increase the chances for lung diseases (lung cancer being among them), but a smoking habit does no favors for the heart, either. A large number of cardiovascular diseases, as many as one-third of diagnosed cases, can be directly attributed to smoking. Note that this risk isn’t just a cigarette issue, but covers other smoking alternatives (e.g. vaping), too.
According to the CDC, cardiovascular disease kills more than 800,000 people a year and more than 16 million Americans have some form of heart disease. People who smoke even less than five cigarettes a day still show signs of heart disease and the stats worsen with increased smoking activity over longer periods of time. Second-hand smokers are also at risk, increasing the chances for both coronary heart disease, stroke, and heart attack.
The best thing you could do for your health with a smoking habit is to quit smoking, challenging as it might be. Though the road to quitting is tough, navigating the aftermath of a stroke or heart attack is worse. This could mean creating a self-help plan, attending a stop-smoking group, reaching out to family for support, avoiding other individuals who smoke, and becoming more aware of situations where you are more tempted to smoke.
While limited amounts of alcohol won’t kill you if you do drink (no more than two drinks for men and one for women), consuming alcohol in excess can negatively affect your heart health, not to mention your overall health. Drinking more than the recommended amount can increase your chances of liver disease, ulcers, and cardiovascular diseases, among others.
Consuming alcohol in excess raises blood pressure and can sometimes cause your heart to beat irregularly, increasing the risk of heart disease. Heavy drinking can also cause a condition known as cardiomyopathy, which prevents the heart muscle from pumping blood as efficiently. Cardiomyopathy can lead to death if heart failure occurs.
Drinking too much alcohol can also contribute to obesity and increased body fat, worsening body composition. Obesity or otherwise unhealthy body compositions are known risk factors for heart disease.
Switching to nonalcoholic alternatives, such as water or tea, will lessen the risk of cardiovascular health problems.
Staying Constantly Stressed
Constant stress affects the body in negative ways, including compromising the immune system and raising blood pressure. Stress also provides fuel for habits that can negatively affect heart health, such as smoking, drinking alcohol excessively, or overeating.
The best way to deal with stress is to find heart-healthy alternatives for relieving or coping with stress, such as exercise. While stress is largely unavoidable, too much stress on a consistent basis can start to whittle away at a person’s overall wellness, potentially increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, among others.
Keeping a Sedentary Lifestyle
Not staying active is one of the worst things you can do for your heart health, though sometimes it can be challenging to establish a routine. A lack of exercise can often negatively affect your body composition, which in turn can increase the risk of heart disease. Finding an exercise pattern, even as little as 20 minutes a day, can do wonders for your heart and will help strengthen your most vital muscle.
Exercise routines don’t need to be extremely intense to be effective, though intense workouts can be healthy. You can slowly ramp yourself into progressively more demanding workouts if you’re just starting out with a new routine or trying to get back into the habit of exercising more. Again, you don’t have to workout for long stretches of time to start seeing positive results from moderate-to-intense workouts.
Schedule a Scan
Advanced Body Scan of Tulsa offers a variety of scans for the heart, lungs, and colon, among others. All scans are minimally invasive and take only a few minutes to complete, but can be crucial to detecting early signs of disease and working towards healthy outcomes. To schedule or ask about a scan, visit our website or call us at 918.879.6161.