You go for weekend walks, you don’t smoke, you observe “Meatless Monday.” When it comes to protecting your heart, you’re a pro — right? The biggest threats to a healthy heart could actually be hiding in plain sight. These six seemingly innocent acts are big no-nos.
1. You sit all day
That new ergonomic desk chair may be great for your back, but it sure isn’t doing your heart any favors. Sitting for more than five hours each day may double your risk for heart disease, according to a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Break up your day with short bursts of movement every hour or ask your employer to invest in standing desks.
2. You don’t floss
Forgoing flossing on a regular basis can do more than damage your gums. The bacteria associated with gum disease are thought to cause inflammation, which may up your chances for heart disease. Make it a priority to floss at least once a day.
3. You overindulge
Drinking excessively can lead to high blood pressure and obesity — two big risk factors for heart disease. While the occasional cocktail or glass of wine is perfectly fine, anything more can be harmful to your heart health.
4. You burn the candle at both ends
If your days start early and end late, you may not be getting the sleep you and your heart need. Just like you, your ticker works hard all day and requires rest to recuperate. Aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
5. You’re a worrywart
Over time, too much stress can damage blood vessels in the heart and increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. Minimize the harmful effects of stress by learning how to effectively manage it, whether that means opening up to a loved one, taking up yoga or simply making a to-do list.
6. Your three favorite words are “pass the salt”
Excessive sodium can lead to high blood pressure — a leading cause of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends that most people consume less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, so be sure to keep an eye on nutrition labels.
What risky behaviors are putting your heart in danger? Schedule an appointment with an Ochsner cardiologist online to find out how healthy your heart is.