We all know the risk factors for heart disease – using tobacco, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle. These risks get a lot of play in the media, because they have been identified as circumstances that can lead to narrowed or blocked blood vessels, the precursors to heart attack, stroke and other heart conditions. Science has made some new discoveries that allows it to predict your risk of heart disease, by identifying other, more obscure, factors that influence your risk of heart disease.

Chronic Migraines. Everyone has had a tough headache before. Some may have even experienced a migraine or two. Migraines are not very common among the population as a whole, but chronic migraines are a common sign of heart disease. Some studies suggest that 40% of people who experience migraines may have heart disease. When the migraines have an aura – headaches that occur after or with sensory disturbances such as flashes of light, blind spots, other vision changes or tingling in your hand or face – these symptoms could indicate that you have some sort of heart abnormality. Consider talking to your doctor about your heart disease risk if you have frequent migraines.

Grey Hair.  Recently a study was released that suggested if you’re going grey fast, then the wise thing to do would be to pay a visit to your cardiologist. The new data, presented at the European Society of Cardiology’s 2017 meeting in Spain, supports the hypothesis that grey hair is linked to an increased risk of heart disease in men. It also cited that many of the molecular mechanisms underlying atherosclerosis and greying hair are similar, such as impaired DNA repair, oxidative stress, inflammation, and hormonal changes.

Insomnia. There’s evidence of a link between sleeplessness and heart disease. The results of a large-scale study show that people who suffer from insomnia are at higher risk for heart attacks. The study, which was conducted at the Norwegian Institute of Science and Technology, included more than 50,000 men and women, who were surveyed about their sleep. Participants were observed for a period of 11 years, during which time 2,368 people studied, experienced a heart attack. After adjusting for age, sex, education, physical fitness, smoking, alcohol consumption and high blood pressure, the researchers made some interesting determinations:

  • People who had difficulty falling asleep had a 45 percent greater risk of heart attack compared to those who did not.
  • People who had trouble staying asleep throughout the night had a 30 percent greater risk of heart attack than people who did not.
  • People who woke up feeling tired had a 27 percent higher risk of heart attack than people who did not.

While none of these situations should be cause for alarm, it is always a good idea to talk to your physician about your risk for heart disease in light of the research that is being conducted.  As always, being tobacco free, regular physical activity, a healthy diet and managing your stress can reduce your risk of heart disease.

Andrea wants to live in a world where the neighborhoods are walkable, bike lanes are plentiful, and the food is fresh, delicious and readily available. A 20-year veteran of the health and wellness industry, she started her career in the fitness industry while earning a master’s degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion, and then on to the burgeoning field of worksite wellness. Andrea has competed in collegiate level soccer, worked as a personal trainer, fitness instructor, wellness coach, and master trainer, climbed 14ers, and completed cycling centuries and metric centuries. All of these experiences give her the opportunity to view well-being from many different perspectives. When she’s not helping others to be their healthiest self, you can find her at a farm to table restaurant, down dogging at the yoga studio, or experiencing the Colorado landscape on a bicycle, snowshoes, cross country skis or on foot.