Avoid these habits that hurt your heart

February is American Heart Month. While COVID-19 and the flu still linger around, you may not even be thinking about the possibility of a bad heart. In fact, 72% of Americans don’t consider themselves at risk for heart disease. Could risk factors lie in our everyday, mundane activities?

Over 600,000 Americans die each year from diseases related to the heart. Smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, and obesity are the most common links, but there are parts of your everyday routine that could raise your risk.

Traffic can triple your risk. One study revealed that people were 3.2 times more likely to have a heart attack if they were in heavy congestion the hour before. Not only are heightened anger and stress levels to blame, but air pollution, which can be inhaled on the long wait, leads to internal issues.

Do you hear that? One study found people with high-frequency hearing loss, caused by exposure to high-decibel noise, had nearly twice the risk of heart disease.

And be sure to brush and floss your pearly whites from all angles. Bacteria can get into the blood vessels and cause inflammation. “The bacteria can affect your heart, your lungs, many systems of the body,” said Larry Lieberman, DDS, at Dental Arts of Palm Harbor.

And if you think artificially sweetened beverages are a healthy alternative, think again! High consumers were 20 percent more likely to have cardiovascular disease at any particular time than those who didn’t drink. So don’t let those little calories fool you.