A hundred years ago people probably thought that we’d have dealt with all diseases by the year 2020. And with all the amazing technology at our disposal, it’s almost weird that we haven’t.
People do die, however, and from a vast host of different causes. Respiratory diseases, dementia and Alzheimer’s, diabetes, road accidents, tuberculosis, and the biggest killer of them all – cardiovascular diseases.
Heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases are responsible for ~647,000 Americans dying every year. And for the lucky few who survive their cardiovascular problems, the treatment costs amount to about $219 billion each year.
Those statistics become even more dire when we look at the elderly and their main causes of death. Between the ages of 60 and 79, a staggering 70.2% of men and 70.9% of women die from cardiovascular diseases. For people between the age of 40 and 59, those percentages are 40% and 34.4% respectively and for people of ages 80+, it’s 83% for men and 87.1% for women.
The various reasons and causes are well documented but the question remains – what should people do to lower those percentages? Or, maybe a better question would be – what should we stop doing?
We’re going to skip the obvious dietary recommendations. We all know that we should avoid unhealthy fats and processed foods, we should reduce the sodium (salt) we consume, and that we should eat more vegetables and fruits.
But it’s worth wondering – while we’re working on our dietary preferences, are there some other habits we should deal with as well?
To answer that, here are 5 habits linked to heart attacks that you can easily get rid of:
1. Staying indoors
A lot of the technological marvels and discoveries of the last several decades have turned us into couch potatoes. Not to mention that the current coronavirus pandemic isn’t helping in that regard either. All this has the nasty side-effect of limiting the time we spend outdoors.
A recent study published in the Current Epidemiology Reports has determined that even just spending time in nature reduces the risks of cardiovascular diseases, strokes, and ischemic heart diseases.
So, while spending time home may be fun, staying indoors for too long may be one habit that we should limit.
2. Ignoring our dental hygiene
There has been quite a lot of research pointing to various mouth bacteria contributing to problems elsewhere in our bodies. One such example is an article in the BMJ Journals which shows how high-risk periodontal pathogens can contribute to pathogenesis and atherosclerosis – hardening and narrowing of our arteries.
From there, the road to a heart attack is quick and painful. So, while we all hate going to the dentist, we shouldn’t be postponing those regular check-ups indefinitely.
3. Not Getting Enough Intimacy
Ok, this may not be an “easy” habit to break but it is crucial. There are lots of reasons why people today are having less sex than before and we won’t go into all of them here. Regardless, it’s a statistical fact that American adults are having less sex than they used to. And that’s a problem not only because sex is enjoyable but because it speaks about people’s deteriorating relationships. It’s also unfortunate because stale sex lives have been connected to heart attacks.
A study published in the American Journal of Cardiology has shown a direct correlation between having sex only once per month or less and increased risk of heart disease and heart attacks. So, easy or not, the stale love life is one bad habit that needs to be ditched.
4. Skipping breakfast
The Circulation Journal has come up with a review that may surprise some people. It turns out that skipping breakfast leads to a stunning 33% increase in heart disease risks. The reason seems to be that eating smaller but more frequent meals is important for our cardiovascular health and breakfasts are a big part of that.
So, whether it’s a bagel, a protein shake, or some oats, find something healthy to eat at for your first meal of the day.
5. Chronic loneliness
Another habit that may not be too easy to break is being lonely. Isolation and loneliness bring a lot of psychological risks with them that have been well documented already.
A study on the BMJ Journal also identified loneliness as a cardiac risk factor. Participants in the study who reported lower levels of social relationships had a 29% increased risk of developing heart diseases.
This seems to be the result of many different reasons. Lonely and less socially active people may be less likely to go out and to take part in physical activities. The various psychological factors related to isolation likely also contribute.
Either way, finding a way to limit your isolation and dealing with your loneliness seems to be very important for much more than just your mental health.