To keep the heart in tip top shape we all know we should eat well, get some exercise, and quite smoking.
But, there are also little things you should be doing every day, which can have a big impact on your overall heart health.
Here are 4 of those seemingly innocent things, which can be damaging over time, and what to do about them:
1. Losing It!
If you find yourself having regular outbursts of anger at work, home, or in any other situation, your temperament could actually be hurting your health, as well as those around you.
A study published in the journal Circulation found that in middle-aged men and women with normal blood pressure, those who had the highest rates of anger, had almost twice the risk of coronary artery disease, and three times the risk of heart attack, in comparison to those with the lowest levels of anger.
What To Do:
While responding angrily can be the first response to a stressful situation, you can learn to respond in a different way.
When you feel anger rising up, make it your new habit to pause, take a deep breath, and refocus on what's really important in life. The fact that someone just cut your off in traffic isn't a big deal in the grand scheme of things, is it?
Try to practice the habit of positivity every day, and this will become more natural.
2. Being Pessimistic
Following on from above, trying to be more positive in all situations is not just good for your mental state, but also your heart.
Research published in the journal Circulation in 2009, highlighted that optimism appeared to protect against heart disease and death, and that pessimism increased the risk.
Researchers noted that pessimists were more likely to have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, suffer from depression, be overweight, smoke, avoid exercise, and were more likely to die from all causes, in comparison to optimists.
What To Do:
Being a more positive person is something you can work on. Here is an article on developing the habit of positivity, as a good starting point.
3. Poor Dental Hygiene
Most people don't associate their mouth care with their heart health.
However, there is some research to suggest a moderate association (but not a causal relationship) between gum disease and heart disease.
It's thought that inflammation from gum disease may allow bacteria to enter the blood vessels in the mouth, which then travel to the coronary arteries. This can narrow the vessels, and reduce blood flow.
It's important to note that more research is needed in this area, however in the mean time it is certainly a good idea to keep your mouth healthy.
What To Do:
Dentists recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day, and flossing once each day. If however, you tend to get food trapped between your teeth, you can floss more often.
4. Avoiding Your Doctor
Most of us dislike going to the doctor, but you shouldn't avoid going, especially if you have heart trouble.
Last week I discussed some of the unusual heart attack symptoms, which could very easily be overlooked as something else completely.
Seeing your doctor regularly for check-ups, as well as when you experience any strange symptoms, is very important, so they can continue to monitor important heart-health markers.
What To Do:
If you are prone to forget about your yearly physical, try making a reminder in your calendar, so that you remember to schedule it each year.
Also, if you notice any unusual symptoms which come on all at once, and aren’t typical of how you normally feel, do get in touch with your doctor immediately for a chat.
Melanie Thomassian is a registered dietitian, health writer, busy wife, and mum. Her goal is to promote good health and better lifestyles in the online community. For more healthy eating tips check out her blog.