Open Accessibility Menu

8 Hidden Risk Factors for Heart Disease

8 Hidden Risk Factors for Heart Disease

Nearly half of all adults in the Unites States have at least one form of cardiovascular disease, and lowering your risk for it goes beyond the right diet, consistent exercise, and less stress. Here are some unusual risk factors that you may not have ever considered before.

Sleep Disorders- Chronic lack of sleep associated with insomnia, sleep apnea and frequent waking can raise your blood pressure and heart rate leading to increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and hypertension.

Migraines- If you suffer from migraines, especially those accompanied by auras (dizziness, ringing in the ears, lines in your vision that occur before shortly before the onset of a migraine) you are more likely to have chest pain, a stroke, and heart attacks. The exact cause of the increase in risk is not known, but if you have a family history of heart disease or you’ve had heart problems or a stroke, speak to your doctor about taking medicines called triptans for your migraines. Triptans work to narrow the blood vessels and help decrease the frequency of migraines.

Poor Dental Health- The state of your teeth and gums is directly related to your heart health. Bacteria from the mouth builds up and enters the bloodstream when your gums are inflamed and bleed. These bacteria can cause inflammation in the lining of the arteries and lead to heart disease. Brush and floss your teeth regularly and make sure to visit your dentist regularly.

Loneliness- Researchers have found a direct connection to heart health and social connections. Those who feel lonely and have limited social interactions or connections have a 29% higher risk of heart disease and a 32% higher risk of stroke than those who feel like they have a happy social life and report to have many social relationships. Loneliness or the stress of being alone can cause inflammation in the body that can lead to heart disease or depression.

Height- Studies find that shorter people have higher cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The New England Journal of Medicine suggest that the genes which determine our stature are connected to the “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides levels. While our height is out of our control, we are able to modify the risk factors for heart disease including smoking and exercise.

ADHD Medication- Stimulant drugs dextroamphetamine and methylphenidate, which are popular medications often prescribed to help with focus and concentration, can raise your heart rate and blood pressure. This increase in blood pressure can lead to heart problems, over time. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits associated with these popular medications and whether you have a family history of heart conditions or stroke.

Living in The South- Yes that’s right! Where you live can dictate your cardiovascular risk. The south has a disproportionately high number of cardiovascular disease risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, smoking, and physical inactivity across the United States. Southerners are known for an abundance of calorie rich foods, so this one doesn’t come as that big of a surprise. But your environment is important and plays an integral role in the ability to access fresh fruits and vegetable, safe places to walk and bike, and the fresh air that you breathe.

Complications During Pregnancy- Complications during pregnancy can impact your heart health in later years. Researchers are unsure of the exact reason, but pregnant women who suffered from gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, eclampsia, spontaneous preterm delivery, and gestational diabetes are at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Tell your doctor about any of these complications you may have had during pregnancy and makes sure to get screened regularly for diabetes and hypertension.

It is important to see your doctor regularly and make sure to discuss any family history of heart disease or cardiovascular conditions. It is never too late, or too early, to begin working on your heart health. While some risk factors are beyond our control, others can be changed or eliminated to help reduce the risk of heart disease.