More than 610,000 Americans every year, or one in every four, die from heart disease, which is the leading cause of mortality in both men and women in the country. The main risk factors aren’t that shocking if you have even a passing familiarity with heart health. They include smoking, having high cholesterol, high blood pressure, being overweight, and not exercising enough. However, it appears that there may be more risk factors than you think—many of which are less evident. Here are some odd items that could have a positive or negative impact on your risk of developing heart disease.
1. Your Forehead Wrinkles
According to preliminary data revealed at the European Society of Cardiology’s 2018 annual conference, people who have deeper forehead wrinkles than is common for their age may be at an increased risk of dying from heart disease.
2. The Altitude Where You Live
According to a study published in January 2017 in the journal Frontiers in Physiology, people who lived at high altitudes (between 457 and 2,297 meters) were less likely than those who lived at sea level to develop metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors for heart disease that includes high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity.
It is suggested that because there is less oxygen in the air at higher elevations, the heart and lungs may operate more effectively. Although the potential correlation is intriguing, more research is necessary to discover whether there is actually an association.
3. How Many Kids You Have
A study published in the journal Circulation found that women who experience many pregnancies have a higher risk of subsequently developing atrial fibrillation, generally known as a-fib. An abnormal heartbeat known as A-fib can cause blood clots, strokes, and other issues. According to the study, women who had four or more pregnancies had a 30% to 50% higher risk of developing a-fib than women who had never given birth.
4. Delivering a Premature baby
A connection between heart disease and childbirth was also discovered by the Circulation study: women who had a baby prematurely (before 37 weeks gestation) had a 40% increased risk of later developing cardiovascular disease compared to those who had full-term pregnancies. Before 32 weeks, women who delivered very early had a risk that was twice that of those who delivered at term.
Although the authors acknowledge that heart disease is not directly caused by premature delivery, it is a significant predictor. In fact, it might be a helpful tool to spot young women who are at high risk for developing heart issues in the future.
5. Eating Breakfast
According to a scientific statement from the American Heart Association, those who routinely have a morning meal are likely to have reduced incidences of heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. A lot of data points to the benefit of eating breakfast for cardiovascular health. You have a higher risk of developing diabetes, high cholesterol, weight gain, and obesity if you skip this crucial meal.
Although they are somewhat safer than traditional cigarettes, electronic cigarettes are far from risk-free. E-cigarettes still contain formaldehyde and acetone, which can impair blood pressure control, encourage blood clots, and hasten the development of plaque in the arteries, according to an editorial in JAMA.
7. Being Fat-Shamed
Your capacity to look after your heart may be influenced by how good you feel about your body. According to a study published in the journal Fat, obese women who internalized negative preconceptions about obesity to a greater extent than those who did not were more likely to have metabolic syndrome.
According to the researchers, the findings demonstrate that shaming people into improving their health is simply ineffective and may even harm them physically in addition to emotionally. They advise opposing the stigma by gaining confidence and working toward attainable objectives rather than succumbing to it.
8. Lifting Weights
You probably already know that exercising regularly is excellent for your heart, but there is amounting proof that strength training also has significant advantages for your ticker. In a research published in the American Journal of Physiology in December 2016, participants’ blood vessel function was enhanced after just one session of interval weight training.
9. Shoulder Pain
People with more heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, were also more likely to experience shoulder pain or rotator cuff injuries, according to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
The cause of this link is unknown, but researchers speculate that treating high blood pressure and other risk factors may also help alleviate shoulder pain. Prior research has revealed a link between heart disease risk and conditions like tennis elbow, Achilles tendonitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
10. Your Level of Education
According to an Australian study from 2016 that was published in the International Journal for Equity in Health, people were less likely to get a heart attack the more school years they had finished. Compared to adults with a college degree, those with no education had a risk of heart attack that was more than double.
According to a study published in December 2016 in The Lancet, having a more active amygdala—the region of the brain activated during stressful situations—is associated with a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Researchers think that when this part of the brain is active, the arteries become inflamed. Stress has long been thought to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease by experts.
13. Getting the Flu
Here’s another justification for getting a flu shot each year: It might also safeguard your heart. According to a study published in January 2018 in the New England Journal of Medicine, the risk of having a heart attack is six times higher in the week following an influenza infection than it is in the year prior to or following.
The flu is one of the best immune system boosters. To combat the virus, the body mobilizes all of its defense mechanisms and inflammatory soldiers. However, that process also causes inflammation in the blood vessels and heart.
14. Having Breast Cancer
The American Heart Association alerted in February 2018 that women who are having or had chemotherapy and radiation for breast cancer may have a higher risk of developing heart disease even years after treatment. Breast cancer survivors, particularly those 65 and older, are more likely to die from heart disease than breast cancer, according to the group’s warning published in the journal Circulation.