5 Unexpected Risk Factors for Heart Disease
Most people know that factors like high blood pressure and smoking increase your risk of heart disease, but there are many other contributing factors that can raise your risk. With 1 in 4 deaths in America caused by heart disease, it’s important to learn as much as possible about this deadly disease to decrease your own risk. Watch for these five more uncommonly known factors of heart disease.
1. High Anxiety
Surprisingly, even air pollution can contribute to high anxiety! Anxiety can be a problem for a few different reasons. First, anxiety cause ischemia, which is reduced blood flow to the heart. Second, symptoms of heart disease could be mistaken for anxiety in persons who are used to feeling heart racing or palpitations. If you have anxiety, ask your doctor about your risk for heart disease.
Psoriasis, which you may recognize on the outside as red, itchy patches of skin, also causes inflammation in the rest of the body. The inflammation caused by psoriasis can lead to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other heart-related health issues. Treating psoriasis reduces these risks, so it is important to visit your primary care physician if you are one of the 7.5 million people in the United States affected by this skin disease.
3. Poor Dental Hygiene
Brushing and flossing isn’t just important for healthy dental hygiene, it’s also an important part of heart healthy living. Gum disease causes inflammation which may increase the fatty deposits within heart arteries. Having healthy teeth and gums may reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke, so remember to brush and floss daily.
4. Low HDL Cholesterol
Not all cholesterol is bad for your heart! HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is also known as good cholesterol, which can help balance out your LDL (low-density lipoprotein), or bad cholesterol. High HDL levels may lower your risk for heart disease. You can increase your HDL by losing weight or quitting smoking. Learn more about how to calculate your cholesterol score here.
5. Taking Calcium Supplements
Research shows that less is more when it comes to supplemental calcium. While calcium supplements help your bones, excess calcium may harm your cardiovascular system by calcifying arteries. When it comes to excess calcium, stick to foods that are high in calcium and discuss calcium supplements with your physician.
If you are at risk for heart disease, visit your Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group physician who will be able to help you make healthy lifestyle changes necessary to lower your risk. They may also refer you to a cardiologist, who will be able to help in more advanced or complex cases.