Health 14:56 09/03/2015

Five unexpected things that can lower your risk of heart attack

Laying off the McDonald’s and exercising regularly are no-brainers when it comes to reducing your risk of heart attacks, along with managing your blood pressure and cholesterol. But there are also some unexpected — and relatively simple — things you can do to lower your risk, Medical Daily reports.

Incorporating most of the 5 actions below, in addition to eating healthy and staying physically active, can protect you from cardiovascular events later on.

Having A Purpose In Life

A recent study found that people who had a more certain direction in life were more likely to be protected from heart disease. Those who reported a lack of meaning in their lives, on the other hand, had a 23 percent higher risk for all causes of death — and a 19 percent higher risk for heart problems — than people who said they found meaning in their lives. The researchers believe that people who follow a certain direction in life — complete with solid goals and values — ultimately surround themselves more with social support, optimism, and guiding principles.

This may or may not relate to the research that has found a link between a religious life and increased longevity; padding your path with comfort from religion may have a positive effect on your health (however repulsive that sounds to atheists and agnostics).

Getting Married

This may be a shock to some, but research has consistently shown that married people overall have better health outcomes and longevity compared to single people. Many factors play into marriage-related health, such as a partner to support and care for you, remind you to take your medications, and lower your stress levels.

One new study in particular found that married people had much lower rates of heart attacks than people who were single, divorced, or widowed. “There are tangible benefits from being in a solid relationship,” Dr. Curtis Rimmerman, a cardiologist who did not partake in the study, told MSN Health & Fitness. “A wife or husband might push their loved one to see a doctor before problems develop, or even to live a healthier lifestyle. The heartening effect of having a loved one to care for and someone that cares for you cannot be ignored.”

It’s not only a spouse that can lower your risk of heart attacks, however. Overall, surrounding yourself with a social support system — whether friends, family, or community members — can benefit your heart and overall health.

Staying Zen

Chronic stress and anxiety disrupts way more than just the peace of your mind; it can take a toll on your body as well. Stress is often linked to unhealthy behaviors like drinking, smoking tobacco, or binge-eating and obesity. All of these things snowball into a negative effect on your heart health. Taking steps to be mindful of your breathing can help lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart problems.

Managing Your Anger

People are 8 times more likely to have a heart attack after an intense bout of anger, according to a recent study. This is “most likely the result of increased heart rate and blood pressure, tightening of blood vessels, and increased clotting, all associated with triggering heart attacks,” the authors state. These results, they conclude contribute to an “acceptance of the role of psychological factors, both acute and chronic, in the onset of acute MI, sudden cardiac death, and stroke.” In short: Learning how to stay calm during arguments or stressful situations can go a long way.

Laughing More

The best is for last; laughing more, aside from improving your mood, can help your heart. A study carried out by a cardiologist at University of Maryland found that laughter increased blood flow throughout the body similar to light exercise, or even cholesterol-lowering drugs. So laugh with your friends or throw on some comedies on Netflix, because it will assist in boosting your blood flow and protect your heart, in addition to fighting depression and anxiety. 

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