How to Wreck Your Heart
What not to do for your heart's health.
7. Forget your growing waistline -- just buy some bigger pants.
If your belt size is slowly getting bigger, that’s something to worry about.
Excess fat tissue in the midsection -- giving you an apple-shaped figure -- could mean metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a combination of risk factors that can lead to heart disease, stroke, or diabetes, through hardening of the arteries, insulin resistance, and inflammation.
A hefty waistline is linked to doubling your risk of heart disease, Goldberg says. That’s good reason to redouble your efforts to get in shape through a healthy lifestyle. It's not just about your clothes size.
8. Never mind when your heart flutters.
A fluttering feeling in your heart that causes chest discomfort, shortness of breath, the feeling you could faint, or actual fainting could be a sign of a heart arrhythmia. That’s an electrical problem with your heart, causing it to beat either too fast, too slow, or just irregularly.
If you feel a flutter for a second and it goes away, that’s no big deal, Goldberg tells WebMD. You can probably chalk that up to caffeine, chocolate, asthma, or maybe some cold medications you took. But if it happens frequently or is associated with other symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
9. Let your blood pressure run amok.
“A good way to wreck your heart is to leave your blood pressure elevated and untreated,” Fonarow says. Only about half of American adults with high blood pressure keep it under control, he says.
Allowing blood pressure to get out of hand makes the heart work harder and this can lead to heart failure. It can also cause hardened arteries, raising your risks for heart attack, stroke, and other problems.
Even though symptoms of high blood pressure are rare, it’s relatively easy to diagnose. You can even check it yourself with a home blood pressure monitor. Diet, exercise, and medications (if needed) can treat high blood pressure.
10. Eat with abandon.
Being overweight or obese contributes to heart disease, heart failure, and a shorter lifespan, Fonarow says.
No doubt, lasting weight loss is tough to accomplish. But the good news is, even moderate weight loss can improve heart risk factors.
Aim for a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and nuts; low in saturated fat and cholesterol; and with almost no trans fats. This does not mean you need to avoid fat altogether. Fats found in fish, olives and olive oil, nuts, and avocados are heart-healthy and should be eaten in moderation.
Reducing your calorie intake by 100 calories per day, will result in a 10 pound weight loss over a year (all else being equal). That’s one slice of bread, one serving of regular soda, or half a candy bar. Small changes add up to big results over time.