15 Surprising Things That Can Lower Your Risk of Having a Heart Attack

No matter who you are, you’re probably at risk of dying from a cardiovascular-related issue. There are a lot of variables at play, but given enough time, most people are going to find their cardiovascular system stressed at some point. Heart attacks, for example, are pretty common emergencies despite the wealth of knowledge we have about how to avoid them.

The best way to prevent a heart attack is to stick to a healthy diet and exercise. Want to know other ways to avoid succumbing to a heart attack? The tip on page 10 will have you rethinking your entire life.

1. Flossing

Woman with healthy teeth

Flossing can help your heart. | iStock.com

How could flossing possibly be good for your heart? Though the evidence is still circumstantial, doctors are exploring an apparent link between gum disease and heart disease. Either way, you should be flossing.

Next: Living here make a difference too. 

2. Move west

denver skyline

Denver’s skyline is one you’ll want to see. | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Culture makes a difference. So does your environment. Look at a map of the United States, and you’ll see certain areas are rife with heart disease and heart attacks. Others? Not nearly as much. The areas with lower incidences of heart issues tend to be out west. Take a look at the list of America’s healthiest cities for further proof.

Next: Most Americans don’t get enough of this. 

3. Go to sleep

Man sleeping in bed

Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. | iStock.com

The importance of sleep can’t be understated. Yet, many of us ignore it. We stay up late playing video games, frolicking at bars, or surfing social media. Setting a strict sleep schedule will do wonders for your health, though. It’ll also help ward off heart disease, according to Harvard researchers.

Next: Do this, even if you have to hold your nose. 

4. Have the salmon

seared salmon with lemon zest and fennel on a white plate

This salmon filet will help your heart. | iStock.com

Most Americans eat meat. Meats — red, processed meats, in particular — are filled with fats and cholesterol, and when consumed in abundance, can contribute to heart disease. Fish, on the other hand, contains heart-healthy fats. If you don’t already eat seafood, try getting some more fish into your diet. Substitute salmon one day per week for your typical burger.

Next: Have you done this at least once this year? Probably not! 

5. Go on vacation

RV for vacationing

Vacation like your life depends on it in an RV. | iStock.com

You know what leads to heart attacks and strokes? Stress. What’s a great way to relieve that stress, or at least get away from it for a bit? Go on vacation. We’re overworked and overstressed. If you have the means to take a vacation (or just get away from your hectic daily life), do it.

Next: Can your taste in music have an impact?

6. Crank up the Mozart

smartphone with earbuds.

Get well-acquainted with classical music. | iStock.com/dmilovanovic

Music can impact your mood and stress levels. If you’re listening to Slayer and pounding Red Bull all day? You’re probably going to be ready to snap. Interestingly enough, studies show listening to classical music can help your heart. It reduces blood pressure, calms you down, and can prevent heart disease.

Next: Do this, but make sure you don’t pick a psycho. 

7. Get a roommate

Roommates in the movie The Roommate

Here are a few roommates in the movie The Roommate. | Screen Gems

Live alone? It may actually be contributing to heart issues, as odd as it may seem. Studies have shown people who live alone have an increased risk of heart disease and heart attacks. There are a lot of factors that play into it, but just know that if you’re flying solo, it may not be great for your heart health.

Next: This may be easier said than done for some people.

8. Give up soda

Soda cans

Stay far away from soda. | iStock.com

You’re probably tired of hearing you should give up soft drinks, but tough. They’re filled with sugar (and often caffeine) and are part of the increasing obesity rate. That means they’re a part of the heart disease equation as well. If you can give soda up, you can lower your risks of heart attack considerably.

Next: Save your life by saving a life. 

9. Get a dog

Woman and her dog at her home office hugging

Now’s the time to get a dog. | iStock.com/Anchiy

Get a dog? Get a dog! Having a dog around will help you become more active (that Dalmatian isn’t going to walk itself), and they can be great stress relievers. The numbers don’t lie — dogs can actually lower your risk of heart attack.

Next: Some people take this to the extreme. 

10. Don’t have (too many) kids

parent with daughters

The number of children you have can play a role. | iStock.com

Having kids is stressful. They also eat up a lot of your time, meaning you don’t have the bandwidth for exercise, and end up eating unhealthy foods. Scientists have linked kids, at least having more than four, to an increased risk of heart attack.

Next: If you do have kids, watch for this. 

11. Have a full term pregnancy


A healthy pregnancy can decrease your risk later in life. | Dolgachov/iStock/Getty Images

Women who deliver a premature infant (before 37 weeks of gestation) may have a 40% higher risk for heart attack, according to a study in Circulation. Delivering the baby early doesn’t make you more vulnerable to heart disease, however study authors believe it may be used to predict your risk later in life.

Next: Unfortunately, this trend is on the rise. 

12. Don’t smoke

loose cigarettes

Skip any form of smoking. | Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Recent research found that vaping may increase your risk for heart disease, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. E-cigarettes may not deliver the same potent punch as full tobacco, but certain vape chemicals like formaldehyde and acetone can alter blood pressure regulation and even increase the risk of blood clots.

Next: Do you have a Ph.D?

13. Spend the time and money to get a higher education

Female Teacher Working With College Students In Library

Education can lower your chances of heart attack. | monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

Although a Ph.D. won’t stop you from having a heart attack, the more years you log at school, the lower your chances, according to a study published in the International Journal for Equity Health. Uneducated adults have twice the risk of having a heart attack versus those who completed college.

Next: Avoid getting this at all costs. 

14. Get a flu shot

A flu shot is almost always a good choice. | Scyther5/Getty Images

Getting the flu can actually boost your risk for heart attack or stroke because the virus created inflammation in the body, which may cause plaque to rupture, Beaumont Health reports.  A seasonal flu vaccine and practicing strict hand washing techniques may help you avoid getting sick.

Next: Netflix lovers won’t like this one. 

15. Move more, sit less

businesswoman shopping online at desk in the office

Sitting all day can really hinder your health.  | Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images

Not surprising, but sitting too long boosts your heart attack risk, according to The American Heart Association. Sedentary behavior, which includes binging watching TV, raises your risk for heart disease, blood clots, stroke, and diabetes too. Researchers don’t know exactly how deep sedentary behavior influences your risk but advise people to sit less and move more.

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Additional reporting by Gina Ragusa.