Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. Every 40 seconds someone has a heart attack and every minute one person dies from heart-related conditions. The data released by the CDC is unsettling however there is good news.

Simple changes in your lifestyle can go a long way in fighting the risks of heart disease. It’s just about paying attention to the smaller things, as health news outlet, Eat This Not That, discovered after consulting with medical professionals and analyzing data in order to establish what daily habits can increase your risk of heart attack.

Here we look at 12 of those:

  1. Not checking your blood pressure. It is easy to neglect those regular blood pressure checkups but the few minutes spent having it tested can save your life.
  2. Not knowing what your cholesterol is. The body naturally produces more cholesterol as we age so, even if you are following a healthy diet, you could still have high cholesterol levels, which increase the risk of stroke and heart disease.
  3. A diet high in saturated fat. Foods like red meat, chicken with the skin on it, cheese and butter are high in saturated fat, which can raise the LDL (or bad) cholesterol in your blood, putting you at risk of heart attack and stroke.
  4. Not exercising enough. Exercise and heart health are closely linked. However, only a small percentage of American’s are actually meeting the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, or 74 minutes of vigorous exercise, a week. It is time to get moving.
  5. Drinking sugary drinks. Sodas and other sugary drinks are loaded with calories, which lead to weight gain and obesity – a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Water is a far better option.
  6. Too much alcohol. Not only does excessive drinking cause strain on the liver, but it also hurts the heart. “Too much alcohol can increase blood pressure, and triglycerides, which can increase your risk of heart disease,” said Dr. Sarin Seema of EHE Health.
  7. Too much sleep. While the benefits of a good night’s sleep have been widely documented, research is starting to show too much sleep can actually be bad for your health – and your heart. More than eight hours of sleep can increase your risk of heart disease, a review that was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found.
  8. Loneliness. People who are lonely, or socially isolated, could be at a greater risk of having a heart attack, studies have shown. Researchers believe chronic stress, a risk factor for heart disease, is exacerbated by loneliness.
  9. Being overweight. If you are carrying extra weight the chances are it is affecting your heart health. Studies show even a modest amount of weight loss can greatly reduce a person’s risk of heart disease.
  10. Smoking. Need a reason to give up smoking? If the thought of lung cancer has not put you off then perhaps the risk of heart attack will. The toxins in cigarettes clog up the arteries, reducing oxygen to the blood and straining your ticker.
  11. A desk job. People who have sedentary desk jobs tend to weigh more and have a higher risk of heart disease than those in more active jobs, research has found. It is important to take regular walk breaks.
  12. Loading up on salt. The average person should be consuming about one teaspoon of salt a day but most Americans consume much more, putting them at risk of high blood pressure, which increases the risk of a heart attack.

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