Weird Risk Factors for Heart Disease

Certain habits like smoking and poor diet are common risk factors for heart disease. But did you know that loneliness can also increase risk? Read about a few weird risk factors for heart disease.

Jul. 22, 2021 3   min read

There are plenty of habits that are known to be bad for your heart, such as smoking and lack of exercise. But did you know that loneliness and even forehead wrinkles can indicate a higher risk for heart disease?

Dr. Uzma Iqbal, a cardiologist at the Sands-Constellation Heart Institute, breaks down a few weird risk factors of heart disease.

Forehead wrinkles

Findings presented in 2018 at the European Society of Cardiology revealed that people with a lot of deep forehead wrinkles may have a higher risk of mortality caused by cardiovascular disease.

“Determining whether someone has a higher-than-average amount of deep forehead wrinkles for their age can actually help catch risk of heart disease early.”

Low altitude

Those who live at a higher altitude may be at less risk for heart disease. A 2017 study found that those living between 457 and 2,297 meters above sea level had a lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome—meaning high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity—than those at sea level.

“Because those at a higher altitude breathe air with less oxygen, their heart and lungs have to work more efficiently, which could lead to a lower risk of heart disease.”

Women with thin bones

Women with osteoporosis, or those with thin, brittle bones, may be at higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease. In a study of women ages 50 through 80, results found that those who develop osteoporosis after menopause are at a greater risk of clogged arteries, leading to heart disease.

“Women with osteoporosis should work with their health care providers to pay close attention to their cardiovascular health, using indicators like blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol levels,” recommends Dr. Iqbal.

Gum disease

Recent research found that gum disease can increase a person’s risk of heart disease by 20 percent. Gum disease causes inflammation of the gums and bacteria surrounding the area, often causing arteries to narrow—a common contributor to cardiovascular disease.

Skipping breakfast

A variety of data over time has revealed that skipping breakfast can be associated with an increased risk of heart disease. A study conducted at the University of Iowa found that those who never ate breakfast had an 87% higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared to those who eat a morning meal every day.


A lack of social connections or feelings of loneliness can lead to a higher risk of heart disease. Why? Because the stress of feeling alone can cause inflammation in the body, leading to conditions that cause heart disease, such as depression.

Experiencing trauma

A sudden traumatic event in your life can lead to a significant increase in stress, which can cause heart rate and blood pressure to increase and remain so.

“Sudden events that cause trauma, such as a death in the family, can contribute to a higher risk of heart disease. If you experience a Signiant trauma, talk to your doctor for help monitoring heart health.”

You struggle to sleep

Those who have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep can have increased blood pressure and heart rate, two factors that lead to cardiovascular disease.

“Not only is consistent, high-quality sleep good for your heart health, but those who don’t sleep enough are more likely to have unhealthy habits that increase risk of heart disease like eating late, skipping breakfast, and more.”

Keeping your risk low

Although some risk factors for heart disease are unavoidable, there are certain things you can do to reduce your risk. Help your heart stay in shape by keeping up on healthy habits such as eating a clean diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and monitoring your blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol levels.

Learn how to help prevent heart disease with these 5 steps 

If you have any known risk factors for heart disease or believe you may be at risk, contact your doctor to work together to monitor your heart health.

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