The most well-known causes of heart disease are common knowledge among many, although the news about them still needs to be spread. Obesity, diet, lack of exercise and smoking are among the most common quoted issues that lead to heart attacks, stroke and high blood pressure. However, there are still people who are not aware of those common conditions and lifestyle choices that result in the nation’s number one cause of death, heart attack.
Beyond the well-known causes of heart failure are some unusual contributors. They may originate from a person’s immediate surroundings, workplace or home, medications or the environment. Learning about these unsuspected causes can help prevent heart attack, stroke or high blood pressure.
Beyond the obvious clues
Some unusual causes of heart disease apply to everyone and others to particular groups of people. One universal contributor to heart problems is air pollution. Small particulates associated with pollution can add to buildup of “plaque” in arteries, especially among older people. Plaque refers to the accumulation of material including calcium, cholesterol and other substances that appear in arteries and hamper the flow of blood. When the flow of blood is constricted, the heart becomes starved of oxygen and the vital nutrients it needs to work properly. Air pollution is also believed to cause inflammation around the heart itself, increasing the risk of heart attack.
Not only is air pollution an unusual contributor to cardiovascular issues, but noise pollution is damaging to the heart, as well. Traffic sounds, such as sirens or overly loud vehicles, can cause stress that can exacerbate high blood pressure. Those who live near highways and airports that continually produce sustained loud noises may be susceptible to stress caused by sound. Beyond other environmental noise pollution such as vehicles and construction site noise, other more controllable factors include excessively loud music and consistently loud conversation. They also add to the stress that can potentially be damaging to the cardiovascular system.
The importance of monitoring medications cannot be understated. Certain medications, such as those used to fight cancer, including chemotherapy, can have a negative impact on heart health. Radiation is also considered a hazard to the heart, as well.
Other more common medicine, including pain relievers, allergy or cold medication, and certain antibiotics may also add stress to the cardiovascular system. It is the ingredients in these medications that can make blood flow more difficult and, while solving one problem, may lead to constricted arteries and high blood pressure. Additionally, stimulants, anti-depressants, antifungal treatment products and some natural supplements should also be reviewed by a cardiologist if prescribed or taken.
Not only should the types of medications be examined, but the recommended frequency of taking them deserves scrutiny. For instance, recent studies revealed that older women who take antibiotics for prolonged periods may be more susceptible to heart disease. For women over age sixty who take antibiotics for sixty days or longer, it is advisable to consult a physician and cardiologist about the need versus the risk of their use.
Although high blood pressure has been linked to depression and stress, now loneliness is recognized as one of the components that contribute to hypertension. Studies of 181,000 people showed that over 7,000 who suffered heart issues or stroke were also lonely, socially isolated or both. Strong friendships and active social networks can help. It is also notable that the number of friends someone has is not as important is how strong the friendships are in warding off loneliness and depression.
Additionally, lack of adequate sleep adds to the risk of high blood pressure. Sleep apnea, in particular, should be treated as a definite factor. Shoulder and leg pain can also indicate a connection to heart issues. Leg pain may indicate peripheral artery disease (PAD), which prohibits proper blood flow to the legs. PAD may be an indicator of atherosclerosis, a broader condition that impedes blood flow to the heart.
To learn more about the causes of heart disease, log on to vascularhealthclinics.org.