You might think that a healthy diet coupled with exercise is enough to keep your heart safe, but there may be more of a risk than you realize. There are certain factors that can put you at risk for a heart attack—not just heart disease. While bad fats, obesity, and smoking can certainly put the heart at high risk, there are other factors that can also negatively affect heart health.
Cholesterol levels. According to a study of about 7,000 people held at Indiana University, low HDL (good cholesterol) levels were concluded to be one of the top predictors of coronary problems—after heart disease and age.
Infection. If there’s any reason to avoid getting the flu or a respiratory tract infection, here’s one to keep in mind. Your chances of having a heart attack become five times higher for at least three days after your diagnosis. Since infections can trigger inflammation, your odds of having a heart attack or stroke rise—which means a preventative flu vaccine might be in order.
Kidney problems. According to a study in the Netherlands, weak kidneys can give you a higher chance of a heart attack—even if you do not have kidney disease.
City living. You might love your downtown apartment, but the sounds of traffic might elevate your chances of having a heart attack. Even if you travel in heavy traffic to work, your risk may be doubled, according to one German study. People who live near a busy road also have a higher risk of death due to cardiopulmonary causes—almost twice as high, according to one study.
Calcium. While you should probably not worry about your daily glass of milk, calcium supplements have been found to increase the risk of heart attack. According to a New Zealand study, women who consumed one gram of calcium citrate over a five-year period had twice the risk of heart attack. Another study found that older women had a 30 percent higher risk of heart attack when they took 500 milligrams of calcium each day. It’s important to speak with your doctor about the right dosage of calcium if it is something you need, since too much calcium might build up in your arteries.
Aspirin. Be careful when you bring your aspirin therapy to a stop, or end your intake of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. According to Matthew Sorrentino, MD, a cardiologist at the University of Chicago, “if you have or are at risk for heart disease and want to stop taking aspirin, do so gradually and under the supervision of a doctor.”
Prostate cancer. According to a 2006 Harvard study, hormone treatment for prostate cancer may increase the risk of heart attack.
Psoriasis. According to Joel M. Gelfand, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania, “in certain patients, psoriasis is a risk factor for heart attack comparable to diabetes.” Dr. Gelfand’s research has found that psoriasis is a risk factor on its own due to being an autoimmune disorder—which can cause chronic inflammation and ultimately, a heart attack.
Relationships. A study at University College London found that relationship problems might increase the risk of heart attacks by 34 percent. That is certainly a good reason to improve relationships—for heart health, if nothing else.
Consult a physician or other health care professional to figure out the right heart health care plan for you.
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