12 Surprising Things That Can Hurt Your Heart

May 21, 2020

Most of us know that a poor diet and too little exercise can negatively impact our heart. There are lots of less obvious things that can contribute to heart disease that you may not be aware of. See how many you were aware of?

Dental problems

There is a link between gum disease and the higher likelihood of having heart disease, too. While the connection isn’t clear, experts surmise bacteria from your gums may move into your bloodstream, leading to inflammation of the blood vessels and other heart problems. Dental check-ups every 6 months will help safeguard your heart. If you spot redness or soreness on your gums or changes in your teeth see a dentist right away.

Shift Work

Western University in Canada identified in a study that working at night or irregular hours raises your risk of a heart attack. Shift work has a negative impact on the body's circadian rhythm and they think that harms your heart. So if you don't work regular day hours, take extra steps to lower your risk of heart disease.  If you are a shift worker you can help lower your risk by getting regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, and see your doctor for regular check-ups.

Traffic Delays

Anyone who’s ever been stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic will tell you it's stressful. That may be why research links spending a single hour in traffic to higher odds of having a heart attack. High noise levels, like the kind you hear on a freeway,  are also linked to heart disease. If you can’t avoid travelling during rush hour, squash stress by listening to relaxing music or share the ride and chat with your fellow passenger.

Early Menopause

If you’re a woman and you go into menopause before you turn 46, your odds of having a heart attack or stroke may be twice as high as those who go through it later. A drop in estrogen, a hormone with ticker-friendly effects, may play a role. Ask your doctor to test you for heart disease risk factors (like high cholesterol).


Does your partner tell you, you regularly snore or you sound like you’re gasping for air while sleeping? If so you might have a serious condition called apnoea. This happens if your airway is partially blocked and it causes you to have pauses in your breathing. The disorder is linked to high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat, strokes, and heart failure. Treatments can help you breathe easier and lower your risk for heart disease, too.

Hepatitis C

If you have this liver infection you are more likely to have low cholesterol and low blood pressure than people who don't have the disease. However, you still have a higher risk of heart disease. Researchers think hep C may cause inflammation of the body’s cells and tissues, including those in the heart. Work closely with your doctor to keep tabs on any heart symptoms.

Poor Sleep

If you get less than 6 hours of shut-eye a night, you raise your risk of higher blood pressure and cholesterol. This increases the odds you’ll become obese and develop diabetes. Both of which can hurt your heart. That doesn’t mean you should sleep your way through the day. When you spend more than 9 hours horizontal regularly, it raises your odds of getting diabetes and having a stroke -- major risk factors for heart disease. Be good to your brain, body, and heart and aim for 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night.

Unhappy Relationships

Getting a good match makes your heart happy and healthy. Research from Michigan State University shows older adults who are content in their relationship have a lower risk of heart disease than those who aren’t, according to a recent study. Poor relationships are stressful and when you’re stressed, you’re more likely to make bad diet choices and do other things that can hurt your heart, like drink too much alcohol. What’s more, stress hormones may have a negative effect on the heart. So consider seeing a couples’ therapist or clergy member together if your marriage isn't a happy one.


Spending time with loved ones helps to impede stress and helps you stay active. Lonely people may be more likely to have heart disease. If you’re not near family or close friends, get connected by helping someone in need, or adopt a dog or cat. There is evidence to suggest volunteers and dog owners might just enjoy better heart health and live longer.

Belly Fat

Carrying extra body fat is hard on your heart, and the kind around your belly is especially dangerous. It can trigger your body to make hormones and other chemicals that can raise blood pressure and have a bad effect on your blood vessels and cholesterol levels.  Consulting with a dietitian, exercise physiologist or your doctor can point you in the direction of a suitable diet and exercise plan. Yoga and short bursts of high-intensity exercise are great ways to whittle your middle according to research.

Too Much TV Time

People who plonk themselves in front of the television a lot are much more likely to get heart problems than those who limit their TV time. Every hour you spend watching TV daily may increase your risk by almost 20%. Sitting is the most likely culprit; it’s linked to problems with high blood pressure. It’s still not exactly clear why or how TV and heart trouble are connected, but no need to wait, limit your time in front of the TV as much as possible.

Too Much Exercise All at Once

We should all know exercise is great for your heart. However, if you are really out of shape or only work out occasionally, start slowly and build your endurance. Research shows that when you exercise too hard, too soon or too long, it may put you at risk for heart attack and other problems. Gentle walking is a great place to start or chat to your doctor for some safe guidelines for your risk profile.

- WebMD