Keeping up with your heart health can sometimes feel overwhelming. You need to consider your diet and level of exercise, maintain a healthy weight, and keep factors like cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure under control. But, while you’re busy grocery shopping for fresh vegetables and lean meats or refilling your prescription at the pharmacy, you may unknowingly already be practicing some good habits for your heart. In fact, there are things you likely already do on a daily basis that have been boosting the strength your cardiovascular system all along. Here are four that may surprise you:
Owning a Pet Lowers Heart Health Risks
It’s no secret that pet ownership can make us happy and less stressed, both important factors in our overall physical health. However, research has shown some compelling benefits for cardiovascular health in particular. For instance, pet ownership has been linked to lower blood pressure and cholesterol which are major players in the development of heart disease. It is also generally believed that pet owners, and dog owners in particular, reap the cardiovascular rewards of increased physical activity while walking or playing with their pet. In fact, dog owners may be up to 36 percent less likely to suffer a heart-related death than others.
Laughing is Heart Healthy
Just as we know that stress, anxiety, and depression have a negative impact on the heart, we also know that laughter gives the heart an incredible health boost. Studies have shown that the simple act of laughing not only helps keep those harmful, negative emotions at bay, it also reduces pain and inflammation and may even increase the body’s levels of good cholesterol. It has even been observed that blood vessels expand with laughter, allowing blood to more freely flow throughout the body and to the heart.
Loved Ones Keep the Heart Strong
Considering the positive effects of laughter on the heart, it shouldn’t be surprising that cardiovascular health also receives a boost from time spent with the people who make us the happiest. Quality time spent with family and friends has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety while also lowering blood pressure. Furthermore, those who live with a partner and have happy relationships have significantly lower risks of heart disease and heart-related deaths than their counterparts who live alone.
Flossing Protects the Heart
You may not think about your heart while flossing your teeth, but it’s benefiting from the act just the same. Multiple studies have unveiled direct correlations between the health of gums and that of the heart. As it turns out, the same bacteria and inflammation associated with gum disease can develop within the arteries as well. Healthy gums, on the other hand, are associated with slower plaque buildup and stronger overall arterial health.
We know that it may not always to be easy to make the most heart healthy decisions. And, while the factors above are certainly no replacement for healthy diet, weight, and medication, they can still play an important role in cardiovascular health. So, the next time you take your dog for a walk, floss your teeth, or have a good laugh, remember that you are taking some strong steps to safeguard your heart health.
Ready to learn more about the current state of your heart health and other ways you can protect it? Contact Cardiovascular Institute of the South, and request an appointment with any of our skilled cardiologists across our many locations.