The Worst Habits that Impact Heart Health

The Worst Habits that Impact Heart Health

Are you doing everything to keep your ticker beating strong?

According to the American Heart Association, people aren’t mindful enough about heart health. Cardiovascular disease accounts for about one in three deaths in the U.S., with about 2,200 Americans dying of cardiovascular disease each day.

The best way to avoid heart complications is early prevention.

“We have to change the way we think about the causal factors in heart disease,” says Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, author of the The Great Cholesterol Myth. “It is not caused by cholesterol. It is not caused by fat …most of what causes disease are the actual habits that we engage in.”

And these are some of those habits:

You Eat ‘Zero Trans Fats’ Foods

Partially hydrogenated oils are well known to wreak havoc on LDL cholesterol levels. Food manufacturers now use “zero trans fats” labels to advertise that their products are free of them – but the devil’s in the details.


“The government allows manufacturers to put on the label ‘has zero trans fats’ if it contains less than .5 grams per serving,” explains Barry A. Franklin, Ph.D, director of cardiac rehabilitation and exercise laboratories at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak.

“There’s a lot of foods that have .41 to .49 grams of trans fats per serving. Why? Because they can put zero trans fats on the label. You should have no more than 2 grams of trans fats per day, so it doesn’t take very much to be exceeding the daily limit. I tell patients to look at a label. If you see hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated, there’s trans fats in there, so stay away from it.”

You’re Not Sleeping Enough

Don’t be so in awe of those seemingly superhuman people that gets by on four hours of sleep a night. They may be more successful in life, but they aren’t doing their hearts any favours. Less than seven or eight hours of sleep causes the body stress, creating the perfect storm for heart complications.

“People who routinely get four, five, six hours of sleep, have disproportionate incidents of diabetes, hypertension and obesity,” says Dr. Franklin. “We also have evidence that sleep deprivation can lead to low grade infections and inflammation.”

Related: Help Your Brain’s Health by Taking Care of Your Heart

You Have More Than Two Drinks a Day

Slow down on the boozing.

The AHA says you should consume no more than one drink per day for women and two per day for men. Exceeding that limit puts your heart at risk.

“Excessive alcohol has a negative inotropic effect, which is a fancy term for meaning that it screws up the pumping capacity of the heart transiently,” says Dr. Franklin.

Photo Credit: Oleksandra Naumenko/; Pattysan/

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