We all know the month of February is the love month. We see happy couples on the streets, and vendors selling chocolates and roses. While it’s easy to lose ourselves in the romantic atmosphere, take note that February is also Philippine Heart Month–a reminder for us to take care of the organ that constantly beats to keep us alive.

During this love month, keep your heart in tip-top shape. Take note of these risky habits that harm your heart and avoid them ASAP!

  1. Sitting All Day

It’s true that sitting is the new smoking. Sitting all day while watching television can lead to high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels. For those working in an office setting, they spend most of their time sitting, glued on their laptops all day. Stop being a couch potato and start walking at least five minutes every hour.

  1. Smoking

Smoking increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. It leads to plaque build-up that narrows or even blocks your arteries. This may trigger a heart attack.  Smoking also increases the danger of having blood clots that may cause a stroke; even secondhand smoke also has this same harmful effect.

  1. Overeating

Don’t think of munching on another burger after finishing your first one. Eating too much is the major cause of obesity and is also a trigger for heart attack. Start eating healthy and try replacing sugary drinks with water. Being overweight is a major risk factor not only for heart disease but also diabetes.

  1. Not Flossing

This may surprise you, but flossing is actually not just important for your teeth, it may also affect your heart as well. Some studies show that people with gum disease (periodontitis) have increased risk for heart disease because of inflammation which promotes atherosclerosis, a disease caused by plaque build-up on your arteries. While it’s not known for sure that this is a direct cause of heart disease, it’s better to maintain proper oral hygiene anyway.  

  1. Drinking too much

Studies suggest that small amounts of alcohol may be good for your heart. However, excessive amounts of alcohol is harmful to your heart. It is linked to high blood pressure, heart failure, and can add extra calories resulting to weight gain. If you drink, take no more than two 12 oz beer and two 4 oz glass wine per day for men, or one 12 oz beer and one 4 oz glass wine per day for women.

  1. Not managing stress

If you are feeling stressed and sad, it can probably take a toll on your health. Try to have an active lifestyle and avoid overstressing at work. Too much stress can damage blood vessels in the heart and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

  1. Eating red meat

Do you love your steak medium rare? Well, this is bad news for you. Red meat should be consumed occasionally rather than daily. It’s high in saturated fat, and processed meat increases the chance of cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer.

  1. Consuming large amounts of salt

Love to eat packaged junk food while watching a movie? Better break that habit. Too much salt can cause high blood pressure, a risk for heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. Always check the labels of the food you’re eating–to see if it has too much salt (sodium chloride). Doctors recommend a range of 1,500 mg (¾ teaspoon) to less than 2,300 mg (one teaspoon) per day. More than that will harm your health.

  1. Ignoring the snoring

Do you ever hear your father snore loudly in the middle of the night? It might be annoying, but snoring can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive Sleep apnea occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted while asleep. It causes the blood pressure to skyrocket and is a risk for heart disease.

  1. Avoiding fruits and vegetables

Research has shown that people who eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day have a 20% lower risk of heart disease and stroke. So make fruits and veggies part of your diet, and enjoy them throughout the day, every day.

Start this February with new fitness goals and a commitment to a healthy lifestyle–your heart will love you for it. Stay healthy and happy, visit ManilaMed for more heart-related tips!