Many Factors Lead to Heart Disease, but You Never Saw This One Coming

You might think you know exactly what to avoid in order to prevent heart disease. But new research shows there could be a factor contributing to heart disease that hasn’t been discussed before. Here’s a rundown of some heart disease factors, but check out page 7 to find out the most shocking factor you never thought would play a role.

Age

Elderly care and respect

Heart disease becomes more common after age 65. | iStock.com/vladans

Heart disease is most likely to occur in people who are over 65. In fact, four out of every five heart disease cases involve people over this age. As you get older, your blood vessels become less flexible. This makes it harder for blood to easily flow through them. Plaque starts to build up along your artery walls, which also increases your risk. If you’ve been smoking for most of your life, your risk will increase even more.

Next: This may sound bizarre, but this definitely impacts heart health.

Bad sleep habits

A night owl screws around on the computer when he should be sleeping

Fix your bad sleeping habits immediately. | iStock.com

It may sound bizarre, but your sleep habits can actually have an impact on your cardiovascular health. Not getting enough sleep has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease. There are several reasons for it, including a higher likelihood of hypertension. Stress plays a big role as well, as a lack of sleep will make you tired, irritable, and cause stress to build up.

Next: Too much of a good thing is not so good.

Drinking

A man inspects his beer

Alcohol isn’t helping. | Matt Cardy/Getty Images

First, they came for your bacon cheeseburger. Now, they’re coming for your beer.

As much as it sucks, drinking can also lead to an increased risk of heart disease, the American Heart Association says. But it’s all about moderation — having a beer or two, here and there, isn’t going to do much damage. It’s when you drink a lot — whether binging every so often or going for the slow burn — that real problems arise.

Next: You would think that these would actually help your heart.

Taking certain medications

medicinal tablets with blue container

Some medications can lead to problems. | iStock.com/LuCaAr

Medicine is supposed to make you better, right? Well, yes — but sometimes, it can cause other complications. And when it comes to heart health, there are many medications that can wreak havoc on your ticker. In fact, there are lists of more than 100 medications and supplements that are associated with heart problems.

But there are three categories that are the biggest offenders: medicines containing high sodium levels, antihistamines, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, for example).

Next: This gender is more likely to get heart disease. 

Being a male

close-up of a man clutching his chest to show a heart attack

Men have a higher risk of developing heart disease at a younger age. | iStock.com

If you think about all the people you know who have suffered a heart attack at a young age, there is a good chance the majority of them are male. According to Kaiser Permanente, that’s because men are more likely to develop heart disease earlier in life. For years, heart disease was thought to only impact men. However, it’s now known that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women over 65. While men are more likely to develop the disease at an earlier age, a heart attack can strike anyone at any time — especially older people.

Next: This genetic factor can increase your risk. 

Race

Minority groups have a higher risk of heart disease. | Getheal.com

While heart disease can affect anyone, certain minority groups are at a higher risk compared to white Americans. According to Health.com, African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, and some Asian-Americans are at a higher risk of developing heart disease. Harvard Medical School blames it on minority groups having an increased prevalence of high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

Next: You’ll be shocked to know that this plays a role in heart disease. 

Loud noises

LA traffic

Loud traffic is stressful and unhealthy. | David McNew/Getty Images

Those constant sirens and honking horns outside your apartment window could be a cause for concern. Researchers in Germany and Denmark studied humans and animals over several years and found that those who were exposed to loud noises had a higher risk of heart failure. The noise appeared to cause a surge in stress hormones, which then affected the arteries in the heart. The study helped solidify that stress plays a big role in heart health. Stress caused by noise, such as living in a city, could be a reason why so many people get diagnosed with heart disease.

Next: Those with this disease are at a greater risk. 

Diabetes

man is measuring the level of glucose

Diabetes and heart disease are related. | iStock.com/BernardaSv

The connection between heart disease and diabetes has to do with blood glucose levels. Diabetics have high blood glucose levels. High blood glucose can damage blood vessels along with the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels. This means that the longer you have diabetes, the more damage those glucose levels can cause. That’s why diabetics are more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease at a younger age compared to non-diabetics.

Next: Here’s why weight plays such an important role in heart health. 

Obesity

Reaching a state of obesity is horrible for your health. | iStock.com

Obesity comes with a lot of negative side effects. These include higher cholesterol and triglyceride levels, an increase in blood pressure, and a higher risk of diabetes. When your body is in a healthy weight range, it circulates blood more efficiently. People with a body mass index of 30 or higher are considered obese. But shedding a few pounds to lower that BMI could make a significant difference in your health.

Next: People suffering from this are at a higher risk of heart disease. 

Depression

A sad and depressed young man

It’s hard to keep healthy when you’re depressed. | iStock.com/lolostock

There are a few factors that relate depression and heart disease. Depression creates shifts in mood that might make it hard to stay motivated to eat healthy and exercise. Not doing either of those can heighten your risk of heart disease. Also, those with depression have unusually sticky platelets — the cells that cause blood to clot — and could cause the arteries to harden, which would also increase the risk of heart disease. However, studies have shown that proper treatment of depression can make platelets less sticky.

Next: Without fitting this into your day, you’re not doing your heart any good. 

Lack of exercise

Sad woman lying on the couch at night

A lack of exercise has a big effect on heart health. | iStock.com/tommaso79

Living a sedentary lifestyle can have a serious impact on heart health. The American Heart Association recommends that adults in the U.S. get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise. Exercise makes the heart stronger, which keeps it healthier for a longer period of time. Think of it this way: The more often you run, the farther the distance you can go. The more you exercise your heart, the longer it stays healthy and keeps pumping blood properly.

Additional reporting by Sam Becker.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!