Key risk factors for developing heart disease are smoking, high blood pressure, and high LDL cholesterol – but there are also some other things that can put extra stress on the heart that men should pay attention to. One of the biggest things linked to an increased risk of heart disease is stress. While a little stress is okay, even beneficial to health, chronic stress is linked to a wide range of harmful health effects.
Chronic stress has been thought to trigger inflammation, which is an instigator of heart disease. But more commonly, stress can cause men to turn to other heart-damaging behaviors, such as smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Managing stress so it doesn’t become a chronic issue is key to helping your heart. Some excellent ways to manage stress include meditation, exercise, and unplugging from technology.
Another perhaps lesser known contributing factor to heart disease is air pollution levels. Air pollution can contribute to and exacerbate existing cardiovascular conditions, such as arrhythmia. Santa Clara County, along with much of California, is consistently given an ‘F’ grading for air quality – so staying aware of daily pollution levels is important. The easiest way to prevent exposure to air pollution is to avoid being outdoors during the most polluted days, and opt to exercise indoors rather than outdoors on spare-the-air days.
Poor hygiene is another risk factor that can contribute to bacterial or viral infections that affect the heart and lead to cardiovascular disease. Establishing good hygiene habits, including washing your hands regularly – especially if you already have an underlying heart condition – is important. What’s more, poor dental health has been linked to heart disease, so be sure to brush and floss daily and visit your dentist every six months.
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