You already grasp the major dos (exercise, dark chocolate, red wine) and don’ts (stress, cigarettes, salt). Now a slew of recent studies is casting light on little-known heart helpers and harms.
THINGS HELPING YOUR HEART…
Happy news! A cheery disposition has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, especially among people with a family history of the disorder. A sunny temperament may serve as a buffer against heart health-sapping stress.
Both green and black varieties may help to reduce “bad” cholesterol (LDL). Having regular cups can also improve arterial function. Skip packaged versions and brew it yourself for the greatest benefits.
This mineral plays a crucial role in helping your heart beat, and an extra 200mg daily could slash your cardiac disease risk by 22 percent. Load your plate with magnesium superstars such as whole grains, nuts and leafy greens.
Yup, you read that right. Light tippling may drop your risk for sudden cardiac death by 30 to 40 percent. Just keep it to one drink or fewer per day. More than that has the opposite effect.
THINGS THAT ARE NOT…
Living near a busy airport or always being around loud traffic could raise your heart disease risk. Experts believe noise pollution can cause a rise in stress, which increases blood pressure. Earplugs!
Heart attack risk can be seven times higher in women with out-of-whack oestrogen or testosterone levels. If you notice irregular periods, sudden weight gain or excess body hair, see your doctor ASAP.
Researchers estimate that cleaning up smoggy air could prevent nearly 8 000 heart failure hospitalisations each year. Breathing it in contributes to atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries. Moving further away from big highways can reduce your risk.
Everyone has the right to blow a fuse occasionally. But a permanently angry outlook is extra-hard on your ticker: your chance of a heart attack increases 2.4-fold in the hours after a rage-fuelled outburst, thanks to sky-high adrenaline and cortisol, which squeeze the arteries.
Did You Know?
An adult woman’s heart weighs about 230g; a man’s weighs about 280g – which is most likely why men who receive transplanted hearts from women are 32 percent more likely to die in the first year after the transplant, says a recent US study.