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This Common Habit Makes Your Heart Disease Risk Soar

Four poor lifestyle choices that  contribute to heart disease, according to experts. 

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for men and women. Every 36 seconds someone dies from cardiovascular disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states. While certain medical conditions like diabetes can cause heart disease, so can poor lifestyle choices. Eat This, Not That! Health talked with Dr. Edo Paz, Cardiologist and VP of Medical at K Health who explained common habits that put you at greater risk and how you can help prevent heart disease. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.



Hand stubbed out cigarette in a transparent ashtray on wooden table

Dr. Paz says, "If you smoke, quitting is the most important thing you can do for your health. Chemicals in cigarette smoke can lead to blockages in the arteries of the heart and brain, leading to heart attacks and strokes, respectively."


Too Much Salt


"Take this one with a grain of salt! Just keep in mind that excess salt can lead to water retention, which can increase your risk for high blood pressure and other heart-related problems," Dr. Paz states. 

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Sedentary Lifestyle

laying on couch

According to the American Heart Association, "Sedentary behavior and physical inactivity are among the leading modifiable risk factors worldwide for cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. The promotion of physical activity and exercise training (ET) leading to improved levels of cardiorespiratory fitness is needed in all age groups, race, and ethnicities and both sexes to prevent many chronic diseases, especially cardiovascular disease. In this state-of-the-art review, we discuss the negative impact of sedentary behavior and physical inactivity, as well as the beneficial effects of physical activity /ET and cardiorespiratory fitness for the prevention of chronic noncommunicable diseases, including cardiovascular disease." 

Dr. Paz says, "The American College of Cardiology and the AHA recommends doing 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Doing so lowers your chance of heart-related events and death."


Obesity or Excess Weight

Feet on scale

The American Heart Association states, "Obesity contributes directly to incident cardiovascular risk factors, including dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and sleep disorders. Obesity also leads to the development of cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular disease mortality independently of other cardiovascular risk factors." The AHA adds, "Lifestyle modification and subsequent weight loss improve both metabolic syndrome and associated systemic inflammation and endothelial dysfunction."

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Why Heart Disease is the Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.

close up of doctor hands with heart

"At least half of Americans are at risk of heart disease due to one of many factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, obesity, poor diet, lack of physical activity, or drinking too much alcohol," says Dr. Paz.


Symptoms of Heart Disease

Athlete man having pain in the chest due to heart disease.

According to Dr. Paz, "There are many types of heart conditions and symptoms can vary. The most common is coronary artery disease, which is what causes heart attacks. Chest pain or discomfort are just some signs of a heart attack. Other more subtle signs include shortness of breath, nausea, and sweating.

  • Other common heart diseases include:
    • Arrhythmias are abnormal rhythms of the heart that can lead to the sensation of fast or irregular heartbeats
    • Congestive heart failure can lead to shortness of breath and leg swelling." 

How to Help Prevent Heart Disease

older man walking headphones

Dr. Paz says, "Understand your risk by knowing your blood pressure and cholesterol. Maintain a healthy body weight. If you're overweight, losing and keeping off even a small amount of weight can make a real difference. If you're smoking, quit. Within a year your risk of heart attack will drop! Exercise! Just 30 minutes a day of walking or light movement can make a difference." 

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Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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