When was the last time you thought about your heart health? We often don’t in our day-to-day lives – we’re busy, after all. The problem is that the less you consider your heart health now, the more you’ll have to consider it later if your heart starts to fail.
If you don’t think about how your heart beats, or you don’t know your resting heart rate, the chances are you won’t pick up on it when things are wrong. Your heart has a very important job, and that’s to keep you alive and moving. When you contemplate what is heart failure, you have to then be forced to think about how you might be hurting your heart without meaning to. So, let’s take a look at the things that you may be doing – even unintentionally – to hurt your heart.
1. You’re skipping breakfast.
When you’re snoozing the alarm and missing your morning meal, you likely won’t be taking in as many vitamins and minerals in your diet as you would otherwise. Not only that, but skipping a healthy start could increase your risk of heart disease. Make breakfast a priority by having the best foods on hand to start the day, such as whole grain bread and cereals, eggs, nut butter, and fresh fruit.
2. You worry – a lot.
The body responds to stress in many ways, and the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are incredibly smart in how they protect you. The fight-or-flight response that occurs as a reaction to stress can mean that your body doesn’t handle the stress well. The body pushes your blood pressure to rise, your heart rate to increase, and your whole system can slow down. Women may notice the pause of menstruation as a stress response, and you have to think about how worrying is going to affect your body.
3. You’re not putting your body first.
You might think that healthy habits are a good way to start the New Year, and they are. But if you put off this resolution and you don’t see it through, you’re going to find it far harder to maintain a healthy weight. Those small goals that seem so insignificant really aren’t, and you have to make sure that you’re not the person in the way of your healthy goals. Work toward them and ensure that you are fueled by energy instead!
4. You’re ignoring all the signs.
Do you have regular blood tests to check your cholesterol and triglycerides? Are you aware of your blood pressure? These are numbers that you really should be on top of. They’re the numbers that are going to tell you all about your heart health and tell you whether you are managing them properly. There is therapy and medication that you can use to ensure that you are feeling at your best while reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke.
5. You’re sitting too often.
How many hours a day do you spend sitting down? Most people are actually sitting for upward of eight hours per day – which is a lot of hours when you think about it. Too much sitting, and you’re going to increase your risk of heart disease and heart failure. When you’re at work, see whether you can have access to a standing desk. When you’re on a break, don’t sit and scroll on your phone; instead, get up and walk around. If you’re at home, watch TV while stepping on the spot to keep your body moving and feeling good. You don’t have to sit for hours a day, and if you can move, you should.
6. You’re spending more time at happy hour.
There’s nothing wrong with an occasional glass of red wine with a friend. The problems arise when that one glass of wine turns into a bottle a night. Too much alcohol can increase your risk of developing heart disease and lead to weight gain, and drinking too much can also send you into a stroke. For a healthier heart moving forward, make sure that you are looking after your alcohol intake as much as possible.
7. You’re not sleeping properly.
If you’re tossing and turning through the night and not working on your ability to rest, you’re going to push your risk of heart disease up. Sleep apnea can also lead to a stroke, but the good news is that you can have this diagnosed and treated. Talking to your doctor will help you to know whether you need a sleep study and whether you can go ahead and choose to improve your sleep. When you improve your sleep, you improve your ability to rest, and this will lead to you helping your heart rather than hurting it.
8. You’re repressing your feelings.
When you internalize how you feel, it festers. That ache in your chest of anxiety? That’s putting pressure on your heart, and it’s causing a constant release of stress hormones across your body. You need to know that when you push down these emotions, you are pushing your body into coping with a lot, and it shouldn’t have to. One of the reasons that therapy is so effective is that it releases some of the burden that you may be carrying, so why not try that?