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Heartbreaking Habits: 6 Habits Bad for Heart Health

The statistics around heart disease are heartbreaking. Heart disease is the number one cause of death globally. Every 40 seconds someone has a heart attack in the United States. Heart disease is the cause of 1 in 4 American deaths. If you add stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases, it’s 1 in 3! (1) Premature heart disease is on the rise in ages 35- 64 so it’s not just a disease for seniors and genetics is not an excuse for the increasing rates. Lifestyles and habits bad for heart health are leading to these heartbreaking statistics.

Just because these rates are high, and it runs in your family doesn’t mean that heart disease is inevitable. Take a look at your habits and make a change for a healthy heart. One study found that changing your behavior had more impact than your genetics on early heart disease. (2) By quitting smoking, eating healthy, and exercising you can do a lot to reduce your risk for heart disease. There are 6 other habits bad for heart health that you want to stop doing right now. Some of these will surprise a lot of you, especially number 3.

6 Habits Bad for Heart Health

  1. Restricting healthy fats
  2. Eating Too Much Added Sugar
  3. Taking a Calcium Supplement
  4. Stressing Out
  5. Sitting is a Bad Habit for Your Heart
  6. Taking Antacids

1- Restricting Healthy Fats

We were told for so long that fats were bad for us that many of us are still restricting fats. Fats are bad and cholesterol [1] is the devil according to popular opinion. That means missing out on healthy fats which are good for your heart. Healthy fats can reduce your risk of heart disease!

Now this isn’t the okay to eat vegetable oils, trans-fats in processed foods and inflammatory foods [2] like dairy. For heart health, you need to cut out all inflammatory foods. It does mean you should add in healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil [3], nuts, chia seeds, eggs and fatty fish as long as they aren’t one of your food allergies [4].

2 – Eating Too Much Added Sugar

While fat got all the blame, sugar has taken over the American diet. Most Americans get 10% of their calories from added sugars.  [5] That’s a lot but some Americans get 25% or more of their calories from added sugars. Sugar is a highly inflammatory food that contributes to obesity, high blood pressure, poor dental health, and diabetes, [6] which all increase your risk for heart disease.

One study looked at heart disease risk and sugar consumption over the course of 15 years. It found that those who got 25% of their calories from added sugars were twice as likely to die from heart disease and that overall your risk went up with the amount of sugar you consumed. (3) It’s time to break the sugar habit for your heart health! You might find there are lots of benefits of giving up sugar [7].

3 – Taking a Calcium Supplement

Yes, taking a calcium supplement is a habit that’s bad for your heart and can lead to cardiovascular disease. You thought your calcium supplement was good for you? That’s all wrong! Milk doesn’t do a body good and you never needed as much calcium as you have been led to believe

A number of studies have shown an association between calcium supplementation and adverse cardiovascular events. (4) Calcium supplements cause a spike in the calcium in your blood stream which can lead to blood clot or build up in your arteries. Stop taking your calcium supplement [8] and protect your heart health.

4 – Stressing Out

I talk about reducing stress [9] a lot because it is so harmful to your health. It is an inflammation creator and that can lead to heart disease. Stress can cause high blood pressure. Your thoughts and stress are directly related to your hormones and hormonal imbalances can lead to a hormonal cascade resulting in further inflammation and stress on the body. This can lead to increased muscle tension, heart rate and blood pressure. Stressing out is one of the hardest habits to break, but breaking the habit is so important for your overall health including your heart health.

5 – Sitting is a Bad Habit for Your Heart

The average person spends more than half their day sitting. (5) Most of us have jobs that require sitting at a desk for long periods. Some of us try to combat the effects with exercise. Exercise is important but just because you exercise regularly doesn’t mean you get away with sitting for the rest of the time. We all know exercise is important for a healthy heart but sitting is bad for your heart. Even if you exercise every day prolonged sitting is still bad for your heart. (6) If you have a job that requires lots of sitting make sure you take regular breaks to move around or do exercises at your desk.

6 – Taking Antacids

Your heartburn [10] drugs can put you at a higher risk for a heart attack than people who don’t take antacids. (7) Individuals who take proton pump inhibitors have a 20% higher risk of a heart attack and that doesn’t even include the higher risk of stroke and other cardiovascular disease. (8) The body is like a Swiss watch [11] and changing one system can impact another. Stomach acid has an important job and inhibiting stomach acid can do a lot of harm.

Break the 6 Habits Bad for Heart Health

Change your behavior for better heart health and break the 6 habits bad for heart health. There are some habits you might not have even realized were bad for your heart. Develop new habits which are good for your heart like exercising, eating healthy and getting regular chiropractic adjustments.

You can make those changes now. Today- so that you can live healthy tomorrow! Genetics don’t determine your heart health. Your habits and your lifestyle can influence your heart health more than genetics.

Written by Dr. Patrick Flynn

Resources for Heart Health:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm [12]
  2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190902181602.htm [13]
  3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/eating-too-much-added-sugar-increases-the-risk-of-dying-with-heart-disease-201402067021 [14]
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28466573 [15]
  5. https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicolefisher/2019/03/06/americans-sit-more-than-anytime-in-history-and-its-literally-killing-us/#79700901779d [16]
  6. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/much-sitting-linked-heart-disease-diabetes-premature-death-201501227618 [17]
  7. https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2015/06/some-heartburn-drugs-may-boost-risk-of-heart-attack-study-finds.htm [18]
  8. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0124653 [19]