Improve sleep and manage stress
If you have heart disease, you’re probably all too familiar with tenets of a heart-healthy lifestyle; eat wisely, get regular physical activity, keep weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar on target; and if you smoke, quit.
What you might not know is that sufficient, good-quality sleep and stress control also offer genuine benefits to your heart.
Two sleep-related problems that plague many people — sleep deprivation and sleep apnea — have been linked to a higher risk of heart disease.
Sleep deprivation. Over time, inadequate or poor quality sleep can increase the risk for a number of chronic health problems, including heart disease. Studies have linked short-term sleep deprivation with several well-known contributors to heart disease, including high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high blood pressure.
Sleep apnea. This common cause of loud, disruptive snoring makes people temporarily stop breathing many times during the night. Up to 83% of people with heart disease also have sleep apnea, according to some estimates.
If you snore often and loudly — especially if you find yourself tired during the day — talk with your doctor about an evaluation for sleep apnea.
Check your stress (and negative thoughts) at the door
Stress from all sorts of challenging situations and events plays a significant role in cardiovascular symptoms and outcome, particularly heart attack risk. The same is true for depression, anxiety, anger, hostility, and social isolation. Acting alone, each of these factors heightens your chances of developing heart problems. But these issues often occur together, for example, psychological stress often leads to anxiety, depression can lead to social isolation, and so on.