Smoking, stress, high blood pressure, being overweight, alcohol consumption, being inactive, and a poor diet are just some of the many well-known risk factors for heart disease. But we don’t need to tell you about these ones because, as mentioned, you are probably aware of them already.
Here are some factors you don’t know about though.
You experienced your period before the age of 12: The earlier you began puberty, the higher your risk of heart disease is later on. Studies have speculated that the link is a result of estrogen levels which, when increased, can increase the risk of blood clots and strokes over time.
You take diet pills: Stimulant diet pills have been shown to hurt your heart overtime as they increase blood pressure, which puts unnecessary stress on your heart. To drop a few pounds, stick with a good diet and exercise.
You recently had the flu: Research has found that there is a higher risk for heart-related complications when a person develops the flu.
You’re lonely: Loneliness and social isolation can increase your risk of heart disease by nearly 30 percent—that’s as much as smoking. Try and combat loneliness by reaching out to others and going out more. If depression is to blame for your loneliness, then seek help.
You had a difficult pregnancy: Pregnancy takes a toll on your heart as you have to pump more blood during those nine months. But if you also experienced other complications during your pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or high blood pressure, this increases the risk of heart disease later on in life.
You went through a separation or divorce: Breaking up is hard to do, emotionally and physically. This is because broken heart syndrome is a real thing. Broken heart syndrome can occur as a result from any emotionally stressful situation like the loss of a friend or family member, financial distress, or a move. To lower your risk of complications of broken heart syndrome it’s important that you deal with the stressful situation in a healthy manner.
You drink a few glasses of wine nightly: Moderate drinking—a few glasses a week—of wine has been shown to have positive heart health outcomes. But too much drinking—a few glasses a night—can have the complete opposite effect. For optimal heart health, you should avoid alcohol, but if you can’t, then a few glasses a week is okay.
You have an inflammatory disease: A disease that triggers inflammation, like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, can increase the risk of heart disease as it can cause plaque buildup and damage to the arteries. Speak to your doctor to come up with ways to control inflammation.
You’re depressed: Mentioned briefly above, depression can trigger negative emotions, such as loneliness, which can negatively impact your heart. Depressed people tend to have higher levels of cortisol in the body, which can cause damage to the heart. Furthermore, depressed people tend to live unhealthier lives.
You suffered from child abuse growing up: Women who experienced three or more traumatic events as a child can have an increased risk of heart disease as an adult. It’s important that you deal with emotional distress in your older years to lower your risk of heart disease.
You are being treated for ADHD: The medication used to treat ADHD can increase your risk of heart disease as it puts extra strain on your heart. Speak to your doctor about the potential long-term risk of this medication.
Many of these factors can be controlled or modified by you in order to reduce your risk of heart disease. The first step is being aware of them – which you now are – so that you can work on improving them.