The following surprising lifestyle factors can also slam-dunk heart health:

Depression

Triggers inflammatory chemicals called cytokines that create inflammation, which can then cause damage to the lining of your heart’s blood vessel walls making them less flexible. 

Protect your heart: See a counsellor and reach out to family and friends for support. Exercise regularly to boost feel-good brain chemicals – even working out just one hour a week can protect against depression, shows research from the Black Dog Institute and the University of NSW.

Noise

People exposed to greater noise levels have higher risk of heart failure, irregular heart rhythms, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, research shows.

Protect your heart: Though you can’t control jackhammers and traffic noise, you can reduce noise exposure. Wear noise-cancelling headphones when on the train or bus. Play soothing or uplifting music in the car, lower your mobile ringtone volume or put your phone on airport mode and eat dinner without the television on. 

Pollution

It appears that exposure to pollution can accelerate plaque build-up in the heart, most likely due to the inhaled particles entering the bloodstream and causing inflammation. 

Protect your heart: Cranking up the air-con in your car can help filter out pollutants, Washington University research shows. Indoor plants can do the same at home. NASA research shows that varieties such as peace lily, weeping fig and chrysanthemums can help filter chemicals from indoor air.

Genes

If a family member such as a brother, sister, parent or grandparent has had a heart attack, particularly between the ages of 55 and 65 – you may have an inherited risk of developing heart disease. 

Protect your heart: Ask your GP about whether you need closer heart monitoring, screening tests, lifestyle changes or medication to reduce your genetic risk. 

Loneliness 

And social isolation, or both, causes a 29 per cent increased risk of heart attack, shows research from the University of York.

Protect your heart: Catch up with friends regularly face-to-face and stay in touch via text messages and Facebook. Join chat rooms, a book group or a volunteer organisation to meet new people. Time with friends is crucial so why not plan a holiday together? 

© Prevention Australia