When it comes to facts about heart health, most of us know that a balanced, personalised diet and regular exercise are the pillars. Physical activity strengthens the heart, making it a more efficient blood-pumping machine.
When you’re least physically active, you’re at higher heart risk than even smoking![i] In response to exercise, the heart can increase its output by up to five times.[ii]
From stress to sleep: Interesting facts about the heart
However, there are lesser-known facts about the heart that play a significant role in determining its health, and we plumb those today.
Heart fact #1: Through thick and thin
In an average lifetime, the heart beats approximately 2.5 billion times and pumps enough blood to fill a football stadium. And the arteries through which the blood flows into the heart are just about 4 millimetres thick. That’s thinner than straw! So, it doesn’t take much to clog them up and increase the risk of heart diseases.
Heart fact #2: Stick to these numbers for good health
Ideal waist size
<35 inches (women)
<40 inches (men)
Blood sugar (without diabetes)
Fasting: 70 mg/dL to 99 mg/dL
2 hours after a meal: <180 mg/dL
Systolic <120 mmHg (the number you see on top)
Diastolic < 80 mmHg (the number you see on the bottom)
Total: <180 mg/dL
LDL: <130 mg/dL
Triglycerides: <150 mg/dL
HDL: >40 mg/dL (men) and >50 mg/dL (women)
Heart fact #3: Sleep deprivation is a risk
A good night’s sleep can do wonders for you, but for your heart’s health, it’s even more crucial. Sleeping poorly or insufficiently puts the risk of hypertension, obesity, and heart disease through the stratosphere. Protect your heart; aim for 7–9 hours of quality sleep each night.
Heart fact #4: Don’t ignore the genes
You can do everything by the book. Eat well. Sleep well. Exercise well. But if heart diseases are written in your genetic stars, there is no ignoring the risk.
Those with a family history of heart conditions should be extra vigilant about managing risk factors like high cholesterol and high blood pressure through regular check-ups and a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Heart fact #5: Oral health = heart health
One of the fun facts about the heart is that it has a strong connection to your teeth. Poor oral hygiene and gum diseases increase inflammation in the body, and chronic inflammation is a silent threat. It lurks in the body, affecting your heart.
Research[iii] reveals that elevated levels of inflammation markers, such as C-reactive protein (CRP), are a strong predictor of heart disease. Dental check-ups and good oral hygiene habits keep inflammation at bay, translating into a lower risk of heart disease.
Heart fact #6: The gut is connected to the heart
There are many amazing facts about the heart, but the one few people think about is the gut-heart connection. The gut microbiome plays a pivotal role in the occurrence and development of cardiovascular diseases[iv].
The reason? The flora of your gut regulates inflammation and metabolism, which impacts heart health. So, the secret to a good heart is a diet rich in fibre and fermented foods that promote a healthy gut.
Heart fact #7: Broken heart syndrome is real
Broken heart syndrome, aka Takotsubo Syndrome[v] or stress-induced cardiomyopathy, is a legitimate condition. It is triggered by emotional stress, such as grief or intense anger, and can mimic a heart attack. In simpler words, there is a profound connection between emotions and your heart.
Moreover, the quality of your personal relationships can affect your heart. Conflicts and stress within close relationships can contribute to cardiovascular problems, according to research[vi]. Keep your heart healthy by managing relationship stress through effective communication and counselling.
Heart fact #8: Second-hand smoke is hazardous
Heart fact #9: Socialise. It’s heart-friendly.
If you can know only 10 facts about the heart, make this number one. Loneliness and social isolation can harm your heart, raising your risk of heart disease by 29%. So, once in a while, go out and be social to protect your heart. Cultivate meaningful connections and have a robust support system so that you can keep depression at bay.
Heart fact #10: A woman’s heart is different
While heart diseases are often thought of as a predominantly male issue, they affect women as well. The difference? Heart health looks different for women.
Men have crushing chest pain, sweating, and nausea during a heart attack. The symptoms for women are breathlessness, dizziness, fatigue, pain in the lower chest, or pressure in the upper back. Knowing these facts about heart attacks can save lives.
In addition, depression is hard on the heart for women aged 55 or younger. They are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack, die, or require artery-opening procedures.
The most important fact about the heart: pay heed to the pied piper
The health of the human heart is influenced by a multitude of factors. It may not operate on all cylinders because you binge on fatty foods, rarely exercise, smoke, drink too much, or just have a genetic makeup. It’s why heart diseases are the number 1 cause of death globally. So, it’s worth your attention to take care of the ticker as much as you can.