Published On: Feb 26 2013 01:32:02 PM CSTUpdated On: Feb 23 2016 01:00:00 AM CST
With February marking American Heart Month, click on to find out which of these 17 bad heart habits you may be breaking, according to Health magazine.
17. Eating Empty Calories -- Studies have shown that a diet full of empty calories -- like foods high in oil, fat and sugar -- increases the risk of obesity and diabetes.
16. Salty Snacking -- The more salt you consume, the higher your blood pressure rises -- putting you at major risk of stroke, kidney failure and heart attack.
15. Ignoring Symptoms -- If you used to climb three flights of steps no problem, and now you're out of breath and your chest hurts, don't assume it's because you're out of shape. Get to a doctor.
14. Avoiding Fruits & Vegetables -- Research has found that people who eat more than five servings of fruits and vegetables a day had about 20 percent lower risk of heart disease and stroke than people who ate less than three per day.
13. Stopping or Skipping Medication -- "High blood pressure is called the silent killer because you don't feel it," Dr. Robert Ostfeld, associate professor of clinical medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, told Health. "Saying you feel fine is not a justification for stopping these pills." If you don't think they're working, try something else.
12. Smoking or Living With a Smoker -- We've all heard it, but Dr. Ostfeld says smoking is "a disaster for your heart." It promotes blood clots, which can block blood flow to the heart, and contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries.
11. Being a Health Procrastinator -- Get regular health checkups so you know your most recent cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar numbers. If any are elevated, you're at risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
10. Eating Red Meat -- Red meat is high in saturated fat, and there's evidence that processed meat, like bacon and hot dogs, increases your risk of heart disease and colorectal cancer. Eat it as an occasional treat, not all the time.
9. Assuming You're Not At Risk -- High blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes, being overweight and smoking are all risk factors that should be kept in check. Even if you feel healthy, get regular checkups.
8. Overeating -- Being overweight is a major risk factor for heart disease. Try to eat less, avoid oversize portions and replace sugary drinks with water.
7. Drinking Too Much -- A small amount of alcohol can be good for your heart, but too many overdo it. Drinking too much is linked to a greater risk of high blood pressure, high levels of blood fats and heart failure.
6. You're Either All or Nothing -- Don't dive into diet and exercise too hard. Instead, it's better to aim for slow and steady to avoid injuries and burnout.
5. Withdrawing From the World -- Yes, people can be annoying sometimes. But people with stronger connections to family, friends and the community tend to live longer, healthier lives.
4. Not Flossing -- No one really knows why, but there's a strong link between gum disease and heart disease. The sticky plaque that builds up over time may trigger inflammation in the body, so it's better to floss regularly than not.
3. Ignoring the Snoring -- Snoring can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, which can cause blood pressure to skyrocket and up your risk of heart disease.
2. Stressing Out -- Everyone feels stressed out or depressed from time to time, but internalizing it can take a toll on your heart. Instead, find a way to laugh and get together with friends or family.
1. Watching TV -- Sitting for hours on end increases your risk of heart attack and stroke, even if you exercise regularly. Research suggests the lack of movement may affect blood levels of fats and sugars.
To read the list by Health magazine in full, click here.