Every 60 seconds, a women will die from heart disease in the U.S., according to the American Heart Association. Heart disease is the number one killer of women (and men) in America, but it’s not always just giving up cigarettes and stepping away from donut box that will save you. It’s a little more involved than that.
It is true that the biggest risk factors for heart disease are obesity, lack of exercise, smoking and high blood pressure, according to the AHA, but as a women, there are other factors than increase your risk of blocked arteries as well. Little did you know that when you were growing up, your likelihood for developing heart disease was beginning to form. While you couldn’t decide at what age you got your period or whether you’ve had heartbreak, you can avoid other lesser-known stressors like diet pills.
February is Heart Healthy Month, and if you’re serious about lowering your risk of heart disease, it’s important to consider and address all the factors that may be contributing to your cardiovascular health — not just the obvious ones.
Women’s Health looked at some of these surprise influences.
1. Danger from diet pills
At best, diet pills don’t do anything, but at worst, they can kill you. This attempt to drop fast pounds with a stimulant can hurt your heart by increasing blood pressure and putting stress on your heart.
2. You got your period early
The earlier you hit puberty, the higher your risk. If you get your period before age 12, you’re about 10 percent more likely to have heart problems later in life. While it’s not known exactly why this is, research has shown that increased estrogen levels can increase your risk of blood clots.
3. you’ve been infected by the flu
As if the flu wasn’t bad enough, catching a bad case can leave you 6 times more at risk for a heart attack in the year after you’ve been infected. Don’t take flu symptoms lightly. See a doctor if symptoms become severe.
One down leads to another. You’re already feeling isolated and you’re also increasing your risk of heart disease by 30 percent — that’s as much as smoking does! Get off social media, find a new activity, join a club. Even getting a pet has been shown to decrease loneliness, and with dogs, improve exercise habits.
5. Rough Childhood
If you’ve experienced abuse or watched other being abused, you’re more likely to deal with heart disease as and adult. The cause is not yet know, but researchers explain, it’s good to combat emotional scars head-on to help heal yourself.
6. Wine time
News about wine consumption flip-slops. One week it’s good for you, the next we should stay away. Researched haven’t landed on the magic number, but it’s safe to say that one drink or less per day is probably safe, but any more than two servings, and you’re at an increased risk of heart disease. If you’re serious about heart disease, it might be time to give up the alcohol altogether.
For other factors, check out WomensHealthMag.com.
(h/t Women’s Health)