If someone asked you to describe the average heart disease patient, what words would you use? Overweight? Elderly? Male? Sedentary? Well, you might be right in some cases, but not all suffering with 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."
Here, he offers the science behind five bad heart health habits and how we can break them.
Get up 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 your bike or join an amateur sports club.
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.
While we don't know the exact reason why, research has shown a strong link between gum 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 twice a day, and not just the week before your annual checkup.
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 those you love and turn to them when you need to support or simply want to connect.
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 die of poor heart health every year, so assuming you're not at risk is one of the most dangerous things you can do to your 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."