We’ve consulted with a medical doctor to identify five beverages you should steer clear of or enjoy only in moderation to keep your heart healthy.
A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked. The cause of that blockage is primarily due to a buildup of fatty deposits, including harmful cholesterol (known as LDL), that ultimately form plaque. This buildup is known as atherosclerosis and can cause your arteries to narrow and harden, ultimately inhibiting blood flow. Heart attack is often a result of heart disease, specifically coronary artery disease (CAD).
1. What is a heart attack?
A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, happens when a part of the heart muscle doesn’t get enough blood. The more time that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart muscle.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the main cause of heart attack. A less common cause is a severe spasm, or sudden contraction, of a coronary artery that can stop blood flow to the heart muscle.
2. What are the symptoms of heart attack?
The major symptoms of a heart attack are:
Chest pain or discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center or left side of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint. You may also break out into a cold sweat.
Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.
Pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders.
Shortness of breath. This often comes along with chest discomfort, but shortness of breath also can happen before chest discomfort.
Other symptoms of a heart attack could include unusual or unexplained tiredness and nausea or vomiting. Women are more likely to have these other symptoms.
3. What are the risk factors for heart attack?
Several health conditions, your lifestyle, and your age and family history can increase your risk for heart disease and heart attack. These are called risk factors. About half of all Americans have at least one of the three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking.
Some risk factors cannot be controlled, such as your age or family history. But you can take steps to lower your risk by changing the factors you can control.
4. Drinks can increase your risk of a heart attack
According to the CDC, about 1 in every 5 heart attacks are silent. This means that about 20% of individuals who have a heart attack won’t even know they had one, but the damage can still be harmful. Even though our heart health isn’t completely in our control, there are a few elements that are. One component, for example, that plays an enormous role in overall heart health is diet—which includes beverages. When it comes to diet we oftentimes don’t think about the things we’re drinking as much as we think about the things we’re eating.
Below, we’ve consulted with a medical doctor to identify five beverages you should steer clear of or enjoy only in moderation to keep your heart healthy.
This one is probably not all that surprising. It’s soda’s high sugar content that poses a threat.
“Research has found that sugary drinks may increase the risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of heart attacks,” says Cedrina Calder, MD, and board-certified preventive medicine doctor based in Nashville, Tennessee. “A recent study showed that people who drank more than 12 ounces of soda a day had abnormal levels of blood fats that increase heart disease risk.”
The main takeaway? Limiting your soda consumption, as well as other sugary beverages, may be crucial for heart health.
There is absolutely such a thing as drinking too much coffee. Even though drinking one cup of coffee a day has been shown to lower your risk of heart failure, you could be setting yourself up for significant heart complications by going overboard with your morning caffeine fix.
A recent study found that individuals who drink six cups of coffee a day or more can increase the lipids (fats) found in the blood, which may increase the risk of heart disease. So, if you’re the type that can finish an entire pot of coffee by yourself and then go for another, consider switching to an herbal tea to preserve your heart health.
Have you ever looked at a canned energy drink and thought there’s no way this could be good for me? Oftentimes the containers themselves even look a little scary, right? And what’s inside is even more dangerous.
“Energy drinks can increase the risk of heart disease by increasing blood pressure and causing abnormal heart rhythms,” says Calder. So, if you thought that these drinks just gave you that quick energy boost with no strings attached, know that isn’t necessarily true. However, it’s important to note that these adverse symptoms are usually seen “in people who either drink large amounts of energy drinks in a short period of time or who consume them with alcohol or other substances,” Calder adds.
Speaking of alcohol, you may not have realized that those who drink it are more at risk of developing heart issues than those who don’t. Excessive drinking can lead to many health issues, one of which is heart conditions. Though this is the case for both men and women, studies have shown that women who drink regularly are at a much higher risk to develop heart disease than men who drink regularly. Like coffee, drinking alcohol in moderation is fine, but drinking too much of the stuff is where the problems begin to arise.
There are two components to these frothy drinks that make them dangerous for heart attacks: sugar and saturated fat.
“Some research even suggests that just one high-fat meal can trigger heart disease in some people,” says Calder. That means you may want to reconsider reaching for that milkshake the next time you’re at a diner—even if it’s just a once-a-week type of treat.
5. Best drinks for heart disease
It may not be the most exciting drink on this list, but plain ol’ water can do wonders for your heart health. When you are well hydrated, your heart can pump blood through your body more efficiently, which can reduce the amount of strain put on your cardiovascular system. While all fluids can contribute to your overall hydration, you should aim for the majority of your total fluid intake to come from plain water.
Other beverages that can contribute to your hydration are more likely to contain added sugar, like soda, juice, and sweetened tea, which we know can detract from heart health. Other common drinks, like coffee and energy drinks, contain caffeine that may exacerbate heart issues for some and are therefore not the best source of hydration.
Each of our fluid needs varies based on several factors, like activity and natural sweat rate; however, a good rule of thumb is women should consume at least 80-ounces of fluid per day and men should reach 110-ounces per day, at least half coming from plain water.
A nice soothing cup of tea in the evening is a ritual for many, and for good reason. Herbal teas, like chamomile and lavender, are thought to be a holistic way to improve sleep quality. You may be wondering what this has to do with your heart health. Inadequate sleep appears to be a risk factor for heart disease as it has the potential to increase the incidence of high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes, which can all raise your risk for heart disease. Current data suggests most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, and good sleep hygiene is important in reaching that range.
A non-caffeinated cup of herbal tea before bed, limiting screen time in the evening and a comfortable sleep environment are all factors that will influence your sleep duration and quality. In addition to the sleepy properties tea may induce, this drink also contains antioxidants that support your overall health.
Whether you make yours fresh at home, buy bottled from a store, or mix a powdered green supplement into the water, each form of green juice can benefit your heart health. Green juice is packed with so many nutrients, like potassium, antioxidants, and even anti-inflammatory factors. This combination of nutrients can benefit your overall health, including your heart, and is a simple addition to your day.
In fact, one study observed the benefits of drinking daily kale juice and found this drink can positively influence blood markers, and even reduce the risk of coronary artery disease in males with hyperlipidemia. When considering adding green juice to your regimen, it is important to again avoid options that have added sugar, and instead choose those made strictly from fruits and veggies, or powdered supplements that do not list “sugar” as an ingredient.
Your heart is the most important muscle in your body, and keeping it healthy with your beverage choices is essential. In addition to using these drinks listed to reduce your risk for heart disease, also monitor your alcohol intake, limit added sugar in your drinks, and consult with your doctor on appropriate caffeine consumption.