8 Surprising Ways You Might Be Damaging Your Heart ...

How many causes of heart damage could you name? Being overweight, not exercising, having a healthy blood pressure and low cholesterol levels are all common causes of heart damage – but did you know that there is a whole variety of other ways you could be harming your heart? Here’s some of the least known, but most surprising, ways you could be sabotaging your health.

1. Floss Friction…

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When was the last time you flossed your teeth? Studies show that most people are likely to skip flossing if they feel pressed for time or over tired, but it could have a bigger impact than you think. Dental health and heart health go hand-in-hand, and there’s a lot of evidence to show that poor dental health and conditions such as gingivitis promote heart disease. The science part is relatively simple – forgetting to floss increases the amount of chronic inflammation in the gums, which causes chronic inflammation throughout the body, and bursts of bacteria enter the blood stream and heart. Make time to brush and floss as often as possible – this is said to be one of the leading causes of heart damage!

2. Up All Night…

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We’ve all been guilty of thinking that there just aren't enough hours in the day, and borrowing some from the night, too. Whether it’s an important work presentation, making a cake for a party or studying for an exam, there’s usually a good reason for missing out on sleep – although partying and socializing can steal plenty of hours over a year, too. Sleeping is for more than just making you feel human, though, and actually reduces blood pressure and promotes a regular heartbeat. Lifestyle studies show that people with healthy sleeping habits are much less likely to suffer heart attacks and heart failure, so make sure you are getting your Zs!

3. Skipping the Sun…

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In the 1990s, a study on the general habits and health of 750 women across the world found that those who went on holiday once every six years or less had a 50 – 100% greater probability of having a heart attack. More recent studies from the Wisconsin Women’s Health Society show that women who don’t take an annual vacation are more likely to feel depressed, tired, tense and less satisfied with their lives and marriages. While it’s not worth getting into debt for a holiday, try to add one to your budget at least every three or four years. You’ll feel the benefits!

4. Window Gazing…

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You’d be forgiven for being confused about how much time we should spend outside – on the one hand we are told to avoid the sun to reduce the risk of skin cancer, and on the other we are advised to get as much sun as possible to boost vitamin D levels and prevent depression and stress. A study from New York found that patients with low levels of vitamin D were much more likely to have a build-up of plaque in the blood vessels than those who have higher levels of vitamin D. Their advice? Enjoy the sun when you can, but prevent sunburn by applying a good quality sun cream, and seeking cover when the sun is at its hottest. It’s the easiest way to get the best of both worlds.

5. Drive-Thru Dramas…

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The drive-thru concept is nothing new to the world of fast food, but recent years have seen the suggestion of drive-thru supermarkets, gas stations and banks, too. It might be time-saving to whiz through in your car, but it’s much easier to hit the target of 10,000 steps a day if you park and walk over to the shops. Keep your heart working and save gas by parking up and exploring on foot.

6. Avoiding Appointments…

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When was the last time you skipped a doctor's appointment? Most surgeries are reporting a rise in no-shows, and it seems most of us are just so busy that it’s difficult to stick to an appointment time. To keep your heart in optimal health, it’s advised that people aged 20 or above with no increased risk of heart issues have a cholesterol, blood pressure and BMI check every two years, and blood glucose checks when you reach 45. Heart disease isn’t known as a silent killer for nothing, so make these appointments a priority!

7. Skipping Dairy…

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Skipping dairy can seem an easy way to shave calories off your daily intake, and reduce your fat consumption, but you need to keep some! People with plenty of low-fat dairy in their diets are much less likely to get diabetes, which can cause heart disease. If you are struggling to include dairy, try opting for skimmed milk and yogurt, reduced-fat cheese or even flavored dairy products.

8. Snack Right…

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Crisps and pretzels are convenient snacks – especially when they come in handbag-sized packs that are easy to take to work! They do contain a large amount of salt and sugar, though, and you are likely to be feeling hungry again in no time. Try to swap for an ounce of nuts instead, which can reduce bad cholesterol by up to 20%, and contain heart-boosting omega-3 fatty acids.

While it can seem that there are too many causes of heart damage to remember, with some simple changes you can give your heart its best care yet! Heart Health month aims to encourage everyone to look at their lifestyle and see if they are nourishing their most important organ – will you be making any changes?! Let me know!

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