Is your lifestyle hurting your heart health?

December 01, 2017

  • Laughter is the best medicine for your heart because it can reverse the harmful effects of stress and negativity. 
  • You can strengthen your heart through regular exercise and a well-balanced diet.
  • High blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels are the leading indicators for heart disease.
Your heart is the most important muscle in your body, and it does amazing things for your body every day. So, it’s important to take care of it. Not only does it beat more than 100,000 times per day, but it also sends about 3,600 gallons of oxygen-rich blood through 75,000 miles of blood vessels throughout your body – every day. Now, that’s a lot of work.

First, here are 4 quick facts about your heart that may surprise you

Your heart can’t take a day off because you depend on it to help you move, exercise and live. Check out these facts about your heart and how you can keep it healthy:
  1. When the body is at rest, it takes six seconds for the blood to go from the heart to the lungs and back, eight seconds to go to the brain and back, and only 16 seconds for it to go all the way to the toes and back.
  2. Only five percent of your blood supplies the heart, 15-20 percent goes to the brain and central nervous system, and 22 percent goes to the kidneys.
  3. The heart sits in the center of the chest, not on the left side. The bottom of the heart tips slightly to the left, which is why you feel it beating more on the left side.
  4. The heart creates enough energy in a single lifetime to drive a truck to the moon and back.

Is your lifestyle hurting your heart?

Did you know heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States? High blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as smoking, are the top risk factors for heart disease, but many lifestyle choices could be damaging your heart. Let’s examine how you unknowingly may be hurting your heart:
  • If you internalize negative emotions, you may be increasing your risk for heart disease. Negativity and stress can raise the levels of inflammatory-causing chemicals in the body, which often lead to atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries. 
  • Irregular flossing can lead to gum disease, which has been linked to an increased risk for heart disease. Luckily this disease is preventable with regular brushing, flossing and swishing with mouthwash. 
  • Eating too much red meat has been linked to cardiovascular disease due to its elevated levels of cholesterol and saturated fat. Switch up your diet so meat accounts for about 10 percent of your daily calories and fresh leafy green vegetables, fruit and whole grains fill up the other 90 percent.
  • If you avoid fresh fruits and vegetables, you can be hurting your heart health. Lower your risk for heart disease by as much as 20 percent when you add five servings of mineral and nutrient-packed fruits and vegetables to your diet each day.
Now is the perfect time to be proactive about your heart health by scheduling regular checkups with your doctor. The Swedish Heart & Vascular Institute is the leading cardiovascular care center in western Washington. Our expert physicians provide advice on how to prevent and manage risk factors for heart disease. Find out your risk by taking our online heart quiz