Heart and circulatory system

Little-Known Things That Are Harmful to Your Heart

Beyond the known factors, there are other unexpected and dangerous ones

By Pan-American Life
Some risk factors of heart disease are well known, such as sedentary lifestyle, overweight, and high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. But there are other risk factors you may not be aware of—and yet they’re highly associated with this condition. Learning them can help you keep your heart safe. Keep reading to learn more:

Unhappy marriage

Various researchers have found that an unhappy marriage may cause stress and raise cholesterol, predisposing the body to cardiovascular disease, especially if the relationship deteriorates over time.


Don’t ignore your partner’s complaints—if they say that you snore, you should consult a doctor. Obstructive sleep apnea is a common problem, but it can be dangerous, as it increases the risk of high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, stroke, heart failure, and death by infarction during sleep due to lack of oxygen.

Poor dental health

People with poor dental health are more likely to have heart disease and stroke. This is because there is a close relationship between the levels of inflammation found in gum disease and hardening of the arteries.

Little-Known Things That Are Harmful to Your Heart - Working night shifts

Working night shifts

Several clinical studies have found that heart function is affected by lack of sleep from 24-hour shifts. But working rotating shifts or night shifts can also alter the body’s Circadian rhythm or biological clock, which changes blood pressure, heart rate, and how much the heart muscle contracts.

City traffic

If you’re someone who gets anxious when stuck in traffic on the highway, you should know that this increases your levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which plays a major role in heart health. For people who already have heart disease, being exposed to constant stress can increase your chances of death.

Little-Known Things That Are Harmful to Your Heart - Staying seated for long periods

Staying seated for long periods

Staying seated for many hours (6 or more) throughout the day is associated with several health problems, such as diabetes, cancer, obesity, and heart disease. That’s why many specialists recommend walking or moving for intervals of at least 2 minutes, as any type of physical activity helps combat a sedentary lifestyle.

Problems with your love life

The stress from a breakup or failed relationship, or from losing a loved one, can leave the heart vulnerable. Many specialists say this is due to the increased levels of cortisol (stress) that these situations cause. So yes, “broken heart syndrome” is a real thing.

Early menopause

As its name indicates, early menopause is when menopause occurs before age 40, either naturally or due to medical treatment. Early menopause is known to increase the risk of heart disease, neurological issues, sleep disorders, heart problems, depression, and anxiety.

Little-Known Things That Are Harmful to Your Heart - Skipping breakfast

Skipping breakfast

Clinical studies have found that middle-aged people who regularly skip breakfast, or only drink coffee or juice, have double the risk of developing atherosclerosis compared to people who eat healthy foods in the morning. Atherosclerosis is a condition that can increase the risk of heart disease.

Exercising too much

A sedentary lifestyle is bad for the heart. That’s why people are recommended to do at least 150 minutes of mild-to-moderate exercise every week. But it looks like too much exercise is also harmful. Men who do more than 7 hours of exercise a week are 86% more likely to develop plaque buildup in the arteries, a warning sign of heart risk.


E-cigarettes might be advertised as being healthier than conventional cigarettes, but they’re not. Specialists say that the nicotine from e-cigarette aerosol can cause adrenaline levels in the heart to skyrocket—increasing the risk of heart attack and sudden cardiac death.

Poor sleep

When you sleep fewer than 6 hours a night, you increase your risk of high blood pressure and cholesterol. It also increases your chance of being overweight and having diabetes. Together, these factors are harmful to your heart. Ideally, adults should sleep between 7 and 9 hours a night.

Little-Known Things That Are Harmful to Your Heart - Past trauma

Past trauma

Tragic experiences, such as sexual assault, the death of a child, a car accident, surviving a natural disaster, or being the victim of a beating or mugging, can cause more than just psychological harm. Scientific evidence shows that these are risk factors for heart problems.

Having a high BMI

Body mass index (BMI) is the oldest and most well-known formula for determining if a person is a normal weight, overweight, or obese. It is also a standard predictor of heart health: if a person’s BMI is out of range, it predisposes them to heart disease in the future.

Vitamin K deficiency

Several studies have found that teenagers with diets low in vitamin K had triple the risk of enlargement of the left pumping chamber of the heart, compared to peers who ate more of this vitamin. This could lead to problems with blood circulation, irregular heartbeats, and increased risk of stroke.


American Heart Association; National Library of Medicine; Mayo Clinic; American College of Cardiology; Revista Española de Cardiología.