If you have a family history of heart disease or other cardiovascular issues, it can seem like the cards are stacked against you. But the reality is, you are not doomed to experience the same health outcomes. While genetics do play a role in heart health, they’re far from anyone’s deciding fate. In fact, an estimated 90 percent of heart disease is preventable through diet and lifestyle habits.
While there isn’t one deciding diet or lifestyle factor that affects heart health, cardiologists do say that there are some habits that have a greater impact than others. In fact, there’s one habit in particular that can have absolutely devastating effects, not only on the heart but on overall health.
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What Is the Worst Habit for Heart Health?
According to both Cedars Sinai cardiologist Dr. Norman Lepor, MD, and Dr. Michael Levine, MD, a clinical instructor in the Department of Medicine at the Leon H. Charney Division of Cardiology at NYU Langone Health, the absolute worst habit for heart health is using tobacco. That includes both smoking and vaping.
“Smoking and vaping significantly increase the risk of stroke, heart attack and peripheral vascular disease, which can lead to leg amputations in severe cases,” Dr. Lepor says. He adds that regular tobacco use can also cause plaque to build up in the coronary arteries, which can raise LDL cholesterol levels.
Dr. Levine doesn’t sugarcoat the impact smoking or vaping can have on heart health. “The single worst habit related to cardiovascular health remains the use of tobacco. There is a significant risk of overall cardiovascular disease as well as the increased risk of cancer,” he says.
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If you do smoke or vape, it can be hard to quit; neither doctor says it’s an easy habit to give up. But both do say that actively taking steps to quit is the single best thing you can do for your health. “There are numerous aids to help with this, including nicotine replacement and also prescription medication,” Dr. Levine says. He encourages anyone who smokes or vapes to talk to their healthcare provider about what their options are in terms of medications that may help them quit.
Other Habits That Can Negatively Impact Heart Health
If you don’t smoke or vape, you’re not off the hook just yet; both doctors say that there are many other habits that can …….