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Heart Health and Stroke

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Other possible heart disease risk factors

Emotional and environmental factors can also contribute to your heart disease risk.

Depression, stress, and anxiety

Negative emotions like depression, stress, and anxiety can raise your risk of developing heart disease. Researchers aren't exactly sure why this is. Perhaps these emotions lead to unhealthy ways of coping, such as smoking, drink too much, or eating high-fat foods — all which can put your heart health at risk. Research also suggests that depression itself is a risk factor for heart disease. Depression, stress, and other negative emotions may affect the body in ways that trigger plaque buildup or clot formation within the arteries. So, taking care of your emotional health is also an important part of taking care of your heart health.  Talk to your doctor or a counselor if you have symptoms of depression or problems coping with daily stressors.

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Not enough sleep

Not getting enough sleep won't just make you cranky, it can also raise your risk of heart disease. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep every night. In adults between the ages of 32 and 59, sleeping less than five hours each day can double the risk of high blood pressure. So make sure you're getting enough sleep to wake up feeling refreshed. If you're having trouble sleeping, don't drink caffeine or alcohol before bed and make sure your bedroom is cool and dark. Also, try doing something relaxing before bed and use your bed for sleep and sex only.

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Lower income

Research shows that lower income adults have an increased risk of heart disease. Children born into lower income families are also more likely to have heart disease as adults. This may be because low-income adults are less likely to be physically active, eat a heart-healthy diet, and are more likely to smoke. It can be difficult to eat a heart-healthy diet in lower income neighborhoods. It may also be hard to find a safe place to be physically active. Check with religious or community centers, or the parks department to see if there are any physical activity groups you can join.

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More information on Other possible heart disease risk factors

Read more from womenshealth.gov

  • Heart Disease Fact Sheet - This fact sheet on women and heart disease includes information about risk factors, prevention, and treatment of heart disease.

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Content last updated: February 01, 2009.

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