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5 tips to fix bad heart habits

By The Health News Team | February 3, 2021
Woman asking for health care holding heart at the park

If someone was asked to describe the average heart disease patient, what words would they use? Overweight? Older? Male? Sedentary? Well, they might be right in some cases, but not all people who have poor heart health fit this "typical" picture.

In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women and affects people of all ages. Many who die suddenly of heart disease have no previous warning signs, which is why heart disease is often called the "silent killer."

Dr. Mehran Moussavian, an interventional cardiologist affiliated with Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, explains that people simply need to get educated and get moving to save their lives.

Here, he offers the science behind 5 bad heart health habits and how to break them.

  1. Get off the couch. Sitting for extended periods of time increases your risk of heart attack and stroke, which experts attribute to rising blood levels of fats and sugars.
    Exercise doesn't have to be work; it can also be fun. Go for a walk, ride a bike, take a dance class or join an amateur sports club.

  2. Get vocal about stress. Feeling overwhelmed, gloomy or depressed? These feelings can
    affect your heart health as well as your mental health, especially if you keep them concealed. Research has shown that laughter and support from loved ones boost heart health, whereas keeping stress to yourself can hurt it.

  3. Get flossing. While we don't know the exact reason why, research has shown a strong link between gum disease and heart disease. Not flossing can cause bacteria-coated plaque to build up over time, which can lead to gum disease and trigger inflammation in the body. So floss at least once a day, and not just the week before your dental checkup.

  4. Get by with a little help from your friends. Studies show that people with stronger connections to family,
    friends and society live longer, healthier lives. Make time for loved ones and turn to them for support or simply to connect.

  5. Get perspective: It could still happen to you. Cardiovascular disease claims more lives in the United States than any other illness. More than 600,000 people die of poor heart health every year. People assuming they're not at risk is one of the most dangerous things they can do to their health.

"Talk with your health care provider about your personal risk for heart disease," says Dr. Moussavian. "Armed with heart health knowledge and the desire to break a few bad habits, you can prevent heart disease, and even save your life."

Sharp HealthCare offers multiple heart health screenings to evaluate risk of heart attack and stroke.

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