The heart is essential for good physical health, pumping blood through our bodies and removing waste from within us. Unfortunately, it is subject to a range of harmful agents, from the concrete to the intangible, and a majority of which is attributed to the choices we make in life. Some factors that lead to cardiovascular disease and heart attacks are less obvious than others, and all are important in understanding how they relate to heart health.
First, it’s already well-known that your choices in consumption and physical activity all have a significant impact on the heart’s health. An infographic provided by the University of Arizona’s online nursing school details the most significant causes of cardiovascular disease. The largest threat would be high blood pressure, another health problem in and of itself, but that can be managed with the right lifestyle changes and medication.
Other primary causes of cardiovascular disease tend to be bad habits, like smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise. The pattern we see to maintaining a healthy heart is being aware of day-to-day life choices and whether or not we’re taking care of ourselves, like finding substitutes for unhealthy food and drink, or getting engaged in enjoyable physical activities.
Though physical health might be more directly related, an overlooked factor in heart health is our emotional state, specifically our level of anger. Anyone’s personal experience can attest to the negative physical effects of anger: muscle tension, clenched jaw, increased heart rate, etc. That kind of emotional response can be a substantial amount of stress on the heart, especially if it occurs frequently. As it turns out, anger is much more harmful to the heart than realized. Research published by the University of Sydney, Australia has found that the chances of a heart attack increase eight-fold within the two hours after an angry outburst.
Emotional health does have a powerful effect on heart health, and having a realistic self-assessment on the matter is easier said than done. Anger management, therapy and meditation are all good starting points for adjusting our attitudes, but ultimately it’s on each of us to adopt a positive mindset and become less prone to the negative physical reactions of anger, anxiety, etc.
It can be surprising what else would contribute to a healthier heart. This Medical Daily article has collected research on less discussed factors that contribute to heart health, and it reveals just how fundamental an overall sense of well-being is to heart health. Some of the factors in the article have been reiterated, such as keeping a watch on emotions. It turns out even your outlook on life, regardless of emotional state, does affect heart health.
Having a purpose-driven or Zen-based outlook on life can contribute to a less stressful life, and less stress in life equals less stress on the body and the heart. Yet there’s more to heart health than personal philosophy, and in a wider range of ways than previously thought. Anything as simple as laughing at comedy movies or stand up, to the bigger things in life like tying the knot can help reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
The key to better heart health is, ultimately, a positive change in all aspects of life: changes in diet and habits for the sake of living with energy and drive, changes in mental health and looking to overcome anger and fear within, and changes in perspective to focus on growth and finding peace. We only get one life with one heart- we owe it to ourselves to live with optimal health in mind.