This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
Research finds certain foods and beverages, as well as environmental chemicals and lifestyle practices, can impact the heart much more than we think, leading to heart failure or heart attacks.
Many of these factors are surprising because they are not things normally associated with cardiovascular health.
Perhaps most surprising of all was a study that found triclosan, a common component of many antibacterial soaps and personal care products, can dramatically impair muscle function, including the heart.
This dangerous chemical is a potent heart depressant, potentially contributing to heart disease and heart failure. It is present in many toothpastes, mouthwashes and deodorants along with household linens and kitchen utensils.
When shopping, avoid buying a product that has triclosan or its trade name, Microban, listed on the label.
Read Also: The Dirty Truth About Antibacterial Soaps
Research shows sleeping less than seven hours per night is directly associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Another study finds those who sleep less than six hours per night have a significantly higher risk of heart attack and congestive heart failure.
Interestingly, those who slept more than eight hours per night had a higher risk of chest pain and disease of the blood vessels supplying the heart.
A large study from Sweden found that men who eat a lot of sausage and cold cuts increase their risk of ending up in a hospital with heart failure, Processed meat is high in nitrates, phosphate additives and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, all of which have adverse health effects.
Moreover, earlier research shows eating red meat is linked to a higher likelihood of heart attacks.
Read Also: Why Meat Eaters Should Eat More Avocado
A study found men with low levels of physical activity had double the likelihood of heart failure compared to those with higher levels. Results also showed that men who sat at least five hours per day had a 34 percent greater risk of heart failure than those who sat less than two hours per day.
Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston discovered that eating too much sugar for many years markedly raises the risk of death from heart failure. A metabolite of sugar exerts stress on the heart, an effect that causes the organ to pump poorly.
You can protect yourself by eliminating sugar and processed carbohydrates from your diet.
Sadly, many people still view diet sodas as healthier options to sugary beverages, but research shows this belief is a myth. A study found that postmenopausal women who drank two or more diet sodas per day had a 30 percent greater likelihood of a heart attack and a 50 percent greater likelihood of death from cardiovascular disease compared to women who seldom or never drank diet sodas.