4 Surprising Risk Factors for Heart Disease

Heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, is implicated in one out of every four deaths. The risk factors for heart disease are well-known: smoking, high cholesterol, hypertension, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, and stress. But research has uncovered a few risk factors that might come as more of a surprise.


Modern life is noisy — cars honk outside our windows as our refrigerator and other appliances provide a constant hum inside. It’s so pervasive we don’t even notice it. But research shows that every 10-decibel increase in environmental noise increases our risk of heart disease.


Secondhand smoke? Everyone knows it’s a significant risk factor for heart disease. But loneliness is just as great a risk factor. Feeling lonely has been shown to cause stress and high blood pressure, both of which increase the odds of heart disease and stroke.

Gum Disease

Flossing is not just good for your teeth, it’s also good for your heart. Research shows that bacteria that enters your system through your gums causes inflamed arteries, leading to cardiovascular disease.

The Flu

Recent research has found an association between influenza and heart attack. A person is six times more likely to have a heart attack in the week after having the flu than they are in the entire year before and after they had the flu. Although the mechanism that connects the flu wit heart attacks is still unclear, what is clear is that getting a flu shot every year is a good way to take care of your heart.

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