The heart is the very center of our bodies and often the center of our lives. The same organ that pumps blood, controls heart rate, and regulates blood pressure is also responsible for the warm fuzzy feeling we get when we see our favorite person, the instant rush of joy when we hear a baby laugh and the depth of emotion when we think of our loved ones. There’s no denying the heart is a vital part of each of us.
As time goes on, we’ve learned so much about what impacts heart health, and we’re sharing a few of the lesser-known factors.
Dentists have been encouraging the public for decades to take better care of their oral health. Of course, it’s important to have clean, healthy teeth and avoid excessive dental bills. It turns out that there is also a connection between heart health and poor dental health. Researchers are still investigating the exact cause, but some believe it is rooted in the inflammation caused by bacteria that infects the gums.
Everyone is very familiar with the idea that stress can have a negative impact on your health. During heightened seasons of stress, your cortisol levels spike. Consistent increases in cortisol can lead to higher blood sugar levels, weight gain, a weakened immune system, digestive problems, and an increased risk of heart disease.
It’s no secret that sleep is key to a balanced, healthy lifestyle. Did you know that during your resting hours, your heart rate actually slows down and allows your body to recover from the day? If you aren’t allowing yourself 7 hours of sleep or more per night, it could have a direct impact on your heart health.
There are plenty of reasons to love our furry friends, but it turns out heart health is one of them. Harvard Health researchers have discovered that pet owners have lower blood pressure and better stability during seasons of stress when compared to non-owners. Don’t have a pet at home? Studies show even petting or spending time with someone else’s animal positively impacts on your life.
The American Heart Health Association found a correlation between heart health and eating habits. Those who eat breakfast tend to have a lower risk of heart disease and are less likely to have high cholesterol and blood pressure.
According to the CDC, there is a demonstrated connection between mental health and risk factors for heart disease. Depression, anxiety, stress and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,) can impact far more than your mental wellbeing. Symptoms include an increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, reduced blood flow to the heart, and higher levels of cortisol. All of this can, over time, cause an increased risk for heart disease.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, with cardiovascular disease claiming a life roughly every 30 seconds. You can read more about how donating your body to science impacts the heart health of future generations in our blog here. Or, you can learn more about the difference between angina and heart disease in this blog.