Heart-Harming Habits

What are you doing to hurt your heart?

It’s the only one you’ve got, so you better take care of it. Your heart is an amazing organ with the important job of pumping life-giving blood to all parts of your body. On average, the adult heart beats 72 times a minute. That’s 100,000 beats a day, 3,600,000 beats a year, and 2.5 billion beats over the course of 70 years. If that doesn’t wow you, how about this fact: the length of your arteries, veins, and capillaries is over 60,000 miles long, more than twice the distance around the earth.

Without knowing it, many people engage in unhealthy lifestyle habits that put their heart at risk for serious disease. When the circulatory system is compromised, all areas of the body suffer at the same time. For good health and long life, you’ve got to take care of your ticker.

You know smoking, not exercising, and eating foods high in sodium and saturated foods are bad for your heart, but here are four other heart-harming habits that may surprise you.

Anger Issues

Are you prone to road rage? Do you fly off the handle at the slightest provocation at home or work? Anger management issues don’t just hurt those around you. They also hurt your heart. Pent up anger, tension, stress, and other negative emotions raise your blood pressure, change the heart’s electrical impulses, and increase your risk of heart disease. In fact, studies have found the angriest people are twice as likely to have coronary heart disease compared to adults who exhibit normal amounts of anger.

Learn healthy ways to manage your anger and stress. When you feel anger and anxiety setting in, practice deep breathing techniques or go for a long run.

Dental Hygiene

You may faithfully brush your teeth morning and night, but do you floss regularly? And no—flossing regularly doesn’t mean flossing during the days leading up to your dentist appointment. It seems strange, but the health of your teeth is closely related to the health of your heart. When you don’t floss, you increase your risk of gum disease. The inflammation caused by gum problems releases bacteria, which can build up in your blood vessels and restrict blood flow, harming the heart.

Make flossing a regular part of your daily dental hygiene regime not only for fresh breath, but for the health of your heart.

Sleep (Or the Lack of It)

The extremes of too much or too little sleep put a strain on your heart by elevating your blood pressure and increasing your stress hormones. Regularly getting less than five hours or more than nine hours of sleep each night can put your at risk for coronary heart disease. Heavy snoring may also disrupt the quality of your sleep. A common disorder called obstructive sleep apnea can increase blood pressure to dangerous levels.

Give your heart the rest it needs by getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night. If you suffer from chronic insomnia or frequent snoring, talk with your doctor.

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