Don’t Skip a Beat: Kick These 5 Habits for a Healthier Heart
by UnityPoint Trinity Muscatine
February 21, 2022

By: Param Singh, MD, and Aswartha Pothula, MD, cardiovascular medicine, P.C. and UnityPoint Health – Trinity

Cardiovascular disease – including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure, is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States.

Family history, high blood pressure, obesity, and older age are major risk factors for heart disease, but certain everyday lifestyle choices can increase your risk also.


Most people associate smoking with serious health problems like a chronic cough and life-threatening lung cancer. However, smoking is also one of the leading risk factors for heart disease. In fact, compared to non-smokers, smoking is estimated to increase the risk of coronary heart disease by two to four times. Those who do not smoke, but are exposed to secondhand smoke, are also at risk for heart disease. If you do not already smoke, don’t start, and if you do, find the resources and support to quit.

Sleeping Too Little

Studies show that people who tend to get less than six hours of sleep each night are more likely to develop heart disease. Sleeping too little can adversely affect the heart by elevating blood pressure and levels of stress hormones. If you snore and often wake up feeling tired, talk with your doctor about screening for obstructive sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder that has been identified as a possible risk factor for heart disease.

Making (Too Many) Fast Food Runs

Consuming high levels of sugar, trans fats, and sodium are considered a cardiovascular no-no, and a common source of these artery-clogging ingredients is the processed food ordered off menus at our favorite fast-food restaurants. While fast food restaurants can be incorporated into a healthy diet through healthy choices and moderation, limiting the number of times you eat out each week can save you money and your heart-health in the long run.

Leaving Stress Unmanaged

It’s common to feel stress and anxiety throughout different seasons of life. However, when left unmanaged, high levels of stress and anxiety can lead to increased risk for heart disease over time. Managing stress is a good idea for your overall health, but especially for your heart. Exercising, eating healthy, quitting smoking, and learning to say, “no” are great ways to control your stress and reduce your risk factors for heart disease. If you experience chronic stress, anxiety, or depression, speak with your doctor to learn about resources and mental health support services that can help.

Avoiding Your Doctor

Ignoring your body’s warning signs can lead to serious, long-term consequences for your heart. In addition to scheduling your annual physical and preventative screenings, contact your doctor if you notice any unusual symptoms that are not typical of how you normally feel.

Reduce Your Risk for Heart Disease with UnityPoint Health – Trinity, the leading provider of cardiovascular care in the region. Dedicated to heart disease prevention, diagnosis, and quality treatment, let Trinity Heart Center and its partner cardiologists provide comprehensive heart care.

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