February is heart health month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. with an estimated 600,000 people dying each year, or 1 in 4 people. Heart disease affects both men and women, but more than half of the deaths in 2009 were men. The greatest risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, diabetes, being overweight or obese, poor diet, physical inactivity and excessive drinking. However, there are other stranger risk factors for heart disease that you may not immediately think of such as:
- The noise level in your neighborhood. A recent study found that your risk of heart attack goes up 12% for every 10 decibel increase in traffic noise. They speculate that the increased noise causes greater stress levels and poorer sleep.
- How well you sleep as a teenager. Recent studies have found that teens that don't get a good night's rest are prone to higher BMI, cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
- Smoke-free laws. This one might not be so hard to believe, but the statistics sure are shocking. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that the rate of heart attack went down by 33% in Minnesota's Olmstead County 18 months after smoke-free laws were put in place.
- Your work life. No, not just the level of stress at your job, but also unemployment can affect your heart health. One study found that unemployment is associated with a higher heart attack risk and that multiple job losses are linked to a higher risk of smoking and higher blood pressure. Another study found that the amount of money you make per hour can also be associated with higher blood pressure.
Considering that as many as 1 in 3 baby boomers will have a heart attack or stroke, it's very important to consider the health of our hearts this month and all the months of the year.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.