doctor holding a red heart
February 21, 2024

Your heart is affected by a number of factors, including your lifestyle, age, family history, and other health conditions. Nearly half of Americans have at least one risk factor for heart disease. Some of these risk factors, such as age and family history, can’t be controlled. However, you can take steps to lower your risk of heart disease by changing health issues that you can control. Keep reading to find out health issues that you didn’t know could affect your heart health and how you can fix them to lower your risk of heart disease.

Heart Health and Stress

stressed man sitting at work desk pinching the bridge of his nose

The amount of stress you experience and how you react to it can affect a variety of areas of your health, including your heart health. When you experience stress, your body releases the hormone cortisol. Research suggests that high levels of cortisol in the bloodstream from long-term stress can increase cholesterol, blood sugar, triglycerides, and blood pressure. Stress can also promote the buildup of plaque in your arteries. These results can trigger heart problems like poor blood flow, blood clots, and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. It’s important to manage your stress to minimize its effects on your heart and overall health. Try stress management techniques such as exercise, social connection, deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and relaxing hobbies.

Heart Health and Inflammation

Inflammation can have a serious impact on heart health and is considered a risk factor for heart disease. Reducing inflammation may help prevent heart attacks and strokes. Inflammation is your body’s response to injury or illness. When you get hurt or sick, your immune system uses inflammation to fight germs and facilitate healing. However, a buildup of cholesterol or plaque in your arteries can also trigger an inflammatory response. Studies have shown that chronic inflammation can irritate your blood vessels and promote the growth of plaque as well as loosen plaque in your arteries, which can create blood clots–the leading cause of strokes and heart attacks. Thankfully, there are lifestyle choices you can make to reduce inflammation and its effects on your heart. Some things you can do include quitting smoking, increasing physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating a heart-healthy diet.

Heart Health and Sleep

woman sleeping in dark room

Do you struggle to get a good night’s sleep? There is substantial evidence that suggests that sleep deprivation and fragmented sleep can negatively impact heart health. Sleep plays a significant role in all areas of physical health, including the cardiovascular system. As you sleep, your heart rate slows, your breathing stabilizes, and your blood pressure drops. This allows your heart to recover from the strain it endures while you’re awake. Insufficient sleep can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, strokes, and heart attacks. Getting enough quality sleep may help prevent damage to your heart and should be part of every heart-healthy lifestyle. If you have a difficult time falling asleep and staying asleep at night, there are some steps for restful sleep that you can follow, such as avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed and following a regular sleep schedule.

Heart Health and Gut Health

There is a link between your heart health and gut health. Your gut contains a hundred trillion bacteria, and many of these microbes help you digest food, fight infection, and metabolize drugs. When your gut microbiome is unbalanced, your heart can be affected. Research has found that changes in certain types of bacteria in the gut may be associated with low levels of good cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, heart disease, and heart failure. This may be due to the compounds that gut bacteria produce when they break down certain foods. The wrong balance could mean increased byproducts that can affect the blood and blood vessels. There are some things you can do daily to take care of your gut to minimize its effects on your heart, such as eating fiber, washing your hands, eating probiotic-rich foods, and only taking antibiotics when necessary.

Test Your Heart Health

Most adults have some degree of cardiometabolic risk, which increases your chances of poor heart health. The KBMO Cardiac Inflammation Test can help evaluate and monitor the extent of this risk through a combination of blood tests. If you are interested in learning more about your risk for serious health problems, get the KBMO Cardiac Inflammation Test today.