man clutching his chest

12 Unforgivable Heart Health Mistakes Everyone Makes

The subject of heart health can be overwhelming (and frankly a little scary). And sure, we all know that we have to eat clean and exercise to have a healthy ticker. But there are also a few things you may be doing wrong right now that are sure to give you an achy breaky heart.

The power of prevention is key when it comes to heart health. However, it’s important to know that the prevention of heart disease doesn’t look the same for everyone. Varying factors such as age, gender and genetics all play a role when it comes to having a healthy heart.

But don’t get discouraged, it’s not too late to get heart-smart and on the right track. Here are 12 mistakes that you could be making that are slowly hurting your heart.

1. Not Getting Enough Sleep

Getting some beauty rest or some shut-eye is important. An erratic sleeping schedule does more harm than good. According to a WebMD article titled Why A Good Night’s Sleep is Important, having less than six hours of sleep a night increases your odds of becoming obese and getting diabetes. Both these conditions are harmful to your heart.

With that said, the extreme opposite of this sleep thermometer can also be fatal. Having more than nine hours of sleep raises your odds of getting diabetes and having a stroke. So how much sleep do you need? Aim for the happy medium, which lies around the seven-eight hour mark.

2. Binge Drinking

beer tasting tray

Many of us might plead guilty when it comes to this unhealthy mistake, especially during the pandemic. Even if you weren’t binging on alcohol but were instead binging on junk food- that’s still not ideal.

Excessive drinking increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. When you consume copious amounts of alcohol, it can increase your blood pressure and this is one of the main factors that can contribute to heart failure.

3. Too Much Exercise

The saying ‘too much of anything is bad’ rings true for healthy habits too. The benefits to exercise are vast and help us live long and healthy lives. But when you exercise too long or when you push yourself too hard, it may put you at risk for a heart attack.

Experts advise that if you are unsure of where your limit is while exercising, you should start with a light workout, such as walking. And always remember to consult a professional before embarking on a new fitness routine.

4. Eating Unhealthy Food

You probably already know the importance of eating healthier, but is junk food really the enemy when it comes to your heart health? Well, the overconsumption of junk food is associated with premature heart disease.

Saturated fat and glycemic starch that are present in junk food can lead to obesity, diabetes and hypertension. Also, the high salt content is responsible for raising blood pressure, putting you at high risk of contracting other heart-related ailments.

5. Stress and Anxiety

Nowadays, stress and anxiety are at a high. With the chaos of our daily lives (especially during a pandemic), how could you not feel anxious and stressed? However, the effects of stress – even in a healthy individual – can put a strain on the heart.

There are, of course, many kinds of anxiety, some of which need to be treated accordingly by a professional. There are also some stress management practices such as meditation that you can try, to keep your heart happy and safe.

6. Skipping Preventative Care

patient gets an injection from doctor

As mentioned earlier, prevention is better than cure and skipping out on going to your annual checkups is a ‘no-no’. In the article, Why so many Men Avoid The Doctor with Dr Tisha Rowe, (founder of the telemedicine network RoweDocs), it states that men in particular, are guilty of this. According to Dr Rowe, men tend to worry about a possible negative outcome when they visit the doctor.

But by skipping out on these appointments you miss out on routine tests for cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. All of which are key to gauging heart health. It’s always better to get ahead of any heart issues should you have any.

7. Not Screening Your Blood Pressure

According to a few studies, avoiding blood pressure screenings is common amongst women. Otherwise known as a silent disease, high blood pressure shows few to no symptoms. For this reason, a staggering percentage of women don’t know that they are suffering from high blood pressure, putting many at risk for heart failure, heart disease or stroke.

Therefore, it’s important to get preventative healthcare screening to avoid this kind of condition.

8. Self-Medicating

medication blister packs

Self-medication can sometimes be a way to avoid a visit to a doctor. You may feel that taking an over the counter pill will be a cost-effective option. But not all pain requires an over the counter type of fix. Besides, without professional help, you risk taking the wrong dosage resulting in adverse effects and symptoms such as high blood pressure and stroke.

A continuous self-medicating routine can be a sign of something more sinister like depression. If you’re feeling sad or hopeless or experiencing any physical discomfort or changes, be sure to consult your doctor and ask for advice.

9. Not Knowing the Warning Signs for You

Did you know that a heart attack can present differently in women than it does in men? And although common, not all heart attacks show up as chest pain or pressure. This is why it is important to always go to your doctor for checkups for more insight into your medical and family history.

10. Ignoring The Signs

man touches his hand

Just like not knowing what the warning signs are for you and your heart health, the same can be said about ignoring the signs once you notice them. Difficulty in breathing is the most common heart health issue. Additionally, chest pain is also common in both cardiovascular disease and inflammation of the muscles.

If you notice any generic symptoms like these, do not ignore them. No matter how big or small you believe the symptom to be, always consult your doctor to avoid creating any further complications.

11. Not Taking a Stand- Literally

Plenty of studies have shown the kind of damage that sitting for long periods can do to your health. For those who have desk-restrictive jobs, you risk having improper posture and an increased risk of heart disease.

Although you can’t quit doing your job, there are a few ways to take a stand and prevent these health concerns. One way is to simply spend some time being active during your day. Perhaps get a standing desk, to break the monotony of sitting all day. You can also just go for a short walk during lunch or after work to increase blood flow to the rest of your body.

12. Refusal to Live Tobacco-Free

cigarette in an ashtray

For those who have been in the habit of smoking for some time, it’s easier to say you’ll quit than it is to do it. However, it is extremely important to wean off the addiction to tobacco as soon as you can.

The negative effects of smoking are extremely well known. From decreased oxygen to the heart to increased risk for blood clots, smoking is one of the top risk factors for heart disease.

Final Thoughts

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle results in good heart health. And although change can be tough or frightening – it is good. All it takes is a little willingness to modify your habits and your health is sure to go off the ch-hearts.

Register for our free webinar series to learn more about how to maintain good heart health. Saturdays at 2pm ET from 26 Feb to 2 April.

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