Most of us are aware of the common risk factors for heart disease. These include smoking, eating a diet high in sodium and processed foods, a lack of physical activity, inconsistent sleep and genetic contributors, among others. But there are a few lesser-known risk factors, such as pollution and social isolation, that can make a big difference in heart health. The American Heart Association recently detailed a few, which we will share below.
When absorbed by the lungs, articulate matter in the air causes inflammation in the cardiovascular system. This makes it especially harmful for
older people or those with existing heart issues. For that group, experts advise wearing masks when outdoors, and staying indoors entirely, if possible.
Loneliness and Stress
It’s not entirely clear why social isolation negatively impacts heart health, but the connection has been shown to exist. One theory is that stressed and lonely people tend to engage more in harmful habits, such as smoking, drinking and eating unhealthy food, than those who are happier.
We’ve previously discussed the effects on heart health of inconsistent sleep, but experts say that simply not getting enough sleep can also be very harmful. One study found that people who slept less than six hours per night had more plaque buildup in the arteries. This buildup can lead to cardiovascular disease.
If you believe that pollution, isolation and lack of sleep are harming your health, seek the support you need to make changes. Your heart will thank you for it.
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