Cardiologist Reveals 5 Things To Avoid To Protect Your Heart Health

You’re never too young to have heart problems.
Huber & Starke via Getty Images

Heart and circulatory diseases cause a quarter of all deaths in the UK and more than a million people in the UK are living with heart failure, according to the British Heart Foundation.

Of course, it goes without saying that protecting our heart health is absolutely essential not only for our day-to-day wellbeing, but for our future selves, too.

Heart conditions can lead to heart attacks, angina, and some strokes, especially if left untreated. This is why regular check-ups are essential and any changes you experience should be reported to your GP, in case they are potentially signs of underlying disease.

It can also help to make specific lifestyle changes to keep your heart in tip top condition. In a TikTok video with over 1.4 million views, cardiologist Nicole Harkin highlights what she avoids in order to protect her heart health.

The habits that can affect your heart

Smoking or vaping

Dr Harkin says that almost all of the heart attacks that she’s seen in young women are due to smoking. This is especially concerning when we consider that one in nine children has experimented with vaping.

Dismissing chest pain

While we sometimes will write off pains and strains as inconveniences, Dr Harkin says that even if you think you’re low risk, you should never dismiss chest pain.

She adds that a “shocking” amount of heart attacks occur in people who would be considered low risk in traditional screening criteria.

Eating lots of processed meats like bacon

According to Dr Harkin, regular consumption of processed meat like bacon, hot dogs, burgers and deli meat has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease because the fats put stress on the arteries.

Ignoring a strong family history of heart problems

Ignoring a history of heart problems within the family is often a cause of young people presenting in hospital with heart attacks and Dr Harkin recommends that if you are at a higher risk, you should speak to your doctor and get regular screenings.

Not sleeping

Dr Harkin says that after a decade of training, three years on call and having three young kids, she now cherishes her sleep – especially as it has such a major impact on heart health.

Research has found that sleep deprivation can increase the risk of heart attacks and people who sleep less than six hours a night are 20% more at risk of a heart attack.

If you’re worried about your heart health or want advice on how to manage it, speak to your GP.