Skip to main content

Everyday Habits That May Increase Your Risk of Heart Disease

6 min read

By Chelsea Dolan

Heart disease is a scary reality that too many people are dealing with. In the U.S. alone, one person passes away every 36-seconds of cardiovascular disease. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says heart disease accounts for one in every four fatalities.

Given how common heart disease is, it’s important that you do everything in your power to lower your risk of developing it. Many of the seemingly harmless habits you do in everyday life could actually be linked to heart disease. Here are some everyday habits to try and kick for the sake of your cardiovascular health.


If you’re one of the 34.1 million Americans who currently smoke cigarettes every day, then it might be time to reconsider this habit. The 7,000 chemicals you’re exposed to when smoking cigarettes have a direct impact on your cardiovascular health. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), nearly 20-percent of cardiovascular disease deaths are due to cigarette smoking.

There’s a long list of effects smoking has on your heart. Smoking can:

  • Permanently damage your heart and blood vessels.
  • Cause plaque buildup in the arteries.
  • Make it difficult for blood cells to move, leading to blood clots.
  • Causes diseases like peripheral artery disease and abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Heart Health Improves After Quitting

As tough as quitting smoking is, the benefits are ultimately worth it. The improvement your body will experience is almost immediately after you decide to stop smoking cigarettes. According to the FDA, your heart rate will drop just 20-minutes after you quit smoking.

Another short-term reaction is the carbon monoxide level in the blood drops to normal within 12-hours of quitting. This allows vital organs, such as the heart, to get more oxygen. Lastly, your overall risk of stroke drops within 4-years of quitting compared to lifetime smokers.

Lack of Exercise

Whether you’re working an office job, binging shows on Netflix, or enjoy spending the day in bed, it’s important to prioritize some daily movement into your day. Even just a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood can make a positive impact.

Those who exercise regularly tend to have better heart health and lower blood pressure. Eat This, Not That also notes that getting just 150-minutes of exercise weekly can help manage cholesterol, blood pressure, and help you maintain a healthy weight. These three factors can reduce your overall risk for heart trouble.

Eating an Unhealthy Diet

What you put into your body has a direct impact on your cardiovascular health. The Heart and Stroke Foundation says, a whopping 80-percent of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented through life habits, one of which is a healthy diet.

A good rule of thumb to live by is to avoid processed foods, added sugar, and saturated fat as much as you can. It’s easier to do this when you cook meals at home instead of eating out all the time. Each time you’re in the kitchen, make sure to choose meals with:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean sources of protein, such as fish, poultry, and beans
  • High fiber
  • Low-fat dairy

Consuming Salt

Another thing to be mindful of next time you eat is how much salt there is in your meal. Everyday Health says that excessive sodium can lead to high blood pressure. High amounts of salt can be found in everything from canned soups to lunch meats to packaged snacks.

It’s recommended that you consume no more than 1,500-milligrams (mg) of salt per day. Being more attentive to nutritional labels can help you keep track of your salt intake.


Did you know that your mental health also has a direct impact on your physical health? The American Heart Association says that feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed can result in harmful bodily responses such as:

Those who are able to manage their mental health have a lower risk of developing heart disease. If you’re dealing with high levels of stress or unsure of how to improve your mental health, talk to your doctor or consider seeking help from a therapist to find a solution.

Drinking Too Much Alcohol

Given how normalized drinking is in society, it can be easy to forget that too much of it can lead to serious health consequences. WebMD says binge drinking causes irregular heart rhythms, increased blood pressure, and diseases of the heart muscle.

If you’re going to drink, it’s best to do it safely and in moderation. It’s recommended that you limit your drinking to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.

Using Illicit Drugs

Another dangerous habit that can lead to heart trouble is using illicit drugs. The American Heart Association says that illegal drugs can trigger a spasm of your coronary arteries. This can trigger various health problems such as:

  • Heart attacks
  • Changes in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Collapsed veins
  • Bacterial infections of the blood vessels and heart valves

Those who regularly use stimulant drugs have an increased risk of aortic stiffening, blood pressure, and thickness of the heart’s left ventricle wall. It’s important that people who use illicit drugs stop or seek professional help to quit.

Not Flossing

Believe it or not, but your dental health happens to be linked to your heart health. Everyday Health talks about a study that found people with coronary heart disease who flossed happened to experience fewer cardiovascular problems.

Apparently, there is a bacteria associated with gum disease that leads to inflammation in the body. Inflammation is something that puts you at a higher risk of heart disease. That being said, make sure to start flossing on a daily basis to prevent gum disease and lower your chances of heart trouble.

Health Conditions That Increase Your Risk

While there are lots of things in your control that can help prevent heart disease, some people carry high-risk factors that cannot always be resolved. Some health issues that put you at higher risk of heart disease include:

  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity

Types of Heart Disease Conditions

When it comes to heart disease, there are many different types of conditions that fall under this category. The good news is many of them can be prevented or treated with healthy lifestyle choices depending on your condition.

The Mayo Clinic says some conditions that affect the heart include:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart rhythm problems
  • Heart valve disease
  • A disease of the heart muscle
  • Heart infection

Symptoms of Heart Disease

There are various symptoms a person with heart disease can experience depending on their condition and whether they are male or female. Mayo Clinic says that men and women can deal with different symptoms. For example, men are more likely to have chest pain while women are more likely to have chest discomfort.

Some signs and symptoms of heart disease include:

  • Pain, tightness, pressure, and/or discomfort in the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain, numbness, or coldness in your legs or arms
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, abdomen, or back

Some people may not know they have heart disease until they experience a heart attack, stroke, or other serious problem. Your doctor may also be able to detect cardiovascular problems during regular checkups, so make sure not to skip your next appointment.

Chelsea Dolan


Chelsea is an experienced writer with a passion for living a healthy life. She does her best at balancing her sugar addiction by going to the gym, parking far away from store entrances, and standing at her work desk from time to time.

Your Health


What Do Your Blood Test Results Mean? A Toxicologist Explains the Basics of How to Interpret Them
By Brad Reisfeld Your Health

What Do Your Blood Test Results Mean? A Toxicologist Explains the Basics of How to Interpret Them

Your blood serves numerous roles to maintain your health. To carry out these functions, blood contains a multitude of components, including red blood cells that transport oxygen, nutrients and hormones; white blood cells that remove waste products and support the immune system; plasma that regulates temperature; and platelets that help with clotting. Within the blood […]

Read More about What Do Your Blood Test Results Mean? A Toxicologist Explains the Basics of How to Interpret Them

5 min read

Dietary Supplements and Protein Powders Fall Under a ‘Wild West’ of Unregulated Products That Necessitate Caveats And Caution
By Emily Hemendinger and Katie Suleta Your Health

Dietary Supplements and Protein Powders Fall Under a ‘Wild West’ of Unregulated Products That Necessitate Caveats And Caution

Dietary supplements are a big business. The industry made almost US$39 billion in revenue in 2022, and with very little regulation and oversight, it stands to keep growing. The marketing of dietary supplements has been quite effective, with 77% of Americans reporting feeling that the supplement industry is trustworthy. The idea of taking your health […]

Read More about Dietary Supplements and Protein Powders Fall Under a ‘Wild West’ of Unregulated Products That Necessitate Caveats And Caution

5 min read

Strep A Explainer: Why Invasive Cases Are Increasing, How It Spreads and What Symptoms to Look For
By John McCormick and Juan Manuel Diaz Your Health

Strep A Explainer: Why Invasive Cases Are Increasing, How It Spreads and What Symptoms to Look For

A jump in the number of people with serious illness caused by group A Streptococcus — also referred to as Streptococcus pyogenes or Strep A — has made headlines recently. There has also been a higher than usual number of deaths from group A Streptococcus infections, including in children, leaving people with questions about why […]

Read More about Strep A Explainer: Why Invasive Cases Are Increasing, How It Spreads and What Symptoms to Look For

4 min read