Could good interpersonal ties bolster the cardiovascular system? One study found that people who were socially isolated and lonely were more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than people with strong social networks. Being in a supportive marriage also cuts your risk heart disease, according to a 2018 study. Your relationships may actually matter more to your lifelong health than your cholesterol readings, suggest findings from the 80-year-old, ongoing Harvard Study of Adult Development. The researchers have discovered that the people who were most satisfied with their relationships at 50 were the healthiest at 80. Love, it seems, really is good for the heart.
Do you smoke even a little? If so, know this: “Smoking even a single cigarette can induce changes that lead to a heart attack,” Gianos says. Lighting up increases your risk of atherosclerosis, raises your chances of blood clots, reduces blood flow and puts you at increased risk for stroke. But it’s never too late to quit and start reversing the damage. “Heart disease risk goes down 50% in the first year [after quitting] and becomes equivalent to a nonsmoker after 10 years,” Gianos says.
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