7 Things You Never Knew About Heart Health

Published: Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Cardiologist at Georgia Heart Institute

While it’s safe to say most of us know the basics when it comes to heart-healthy foods, exercise, and stress reduction, there may be a good bit you do not know.

In addition to learning directly from the cardiologists of Georgia Heart Institute and receiving personalized tips for your unique heart health, here are a few surprising facts about heart health:

1. Your education and your risk of heart disease are connected.

You may wonder what one possibly has to do with the other, but a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine followed the lives and health of almost 14,000 American adults from 1987 to 2013. Participants who had a higher level of education were less likely to develop heart disease.

2. A broken heart is a real thing.

It’s common to hear “that breaks my heart” when something is sad, but did you realize that there’s a heart condition called broken heart syndrome? It’s a temporary condition associated with intense stress and emotions, and it disrupts your heart’s pumping ability.

3. The earliest pacemakers plugged into the wall.

Pacemakers today are self-contained devices implanted in the heart. But the first pacemaker, created in 1950, had to be plugged into an electric socket, meaning a person needed to be near an outlet at all times. Thankfully, by 1958, new devices were available that were wearable.

4. The blue whale has a whale of a heart.

Looking for the largest heart on earth? You’ll find it in the blue whale—the heart of this whale species can weigh more than 1,000 pounds! It’s no wonder, though, since a blue whale weighs up to 150 tons.

5. On average, women’s hearts beat faster than men’s.

This is because women’s hearts are smaller in size, so the heart has to work harder to pump blood efficiently. The difference is fairly minimal, though. Women’s hearts average about 78 beats per minute, while men’s average around 70.

6. Christmas isn’t so jolly for the heart sometimes.

The risk of having a heart attack is highest on Christmas Eve. In fact, a Swedish study found the holiday came with a 15 percent increase in heart attack risk, likely associated with intense emotions and stress. The heart attack risk stays high between Christmas and New Year’s, driving more people to the hospital with heart attack symptoms than at any other time of year.

7. A flu shot is an extra shot of good heart health.

Need another reason to get a flu shot? Getting the annual flu vaccine reduces the risk of heart attacks and stroke among those who have heart disease. The flu can cause inflammation throughout the body, which can trigger heart health issues. The best time to get a flu shot is between mid-September and the end of October, but late is better than never!

Georgia Heart Institute Prevention Center

As the leading heart and vascular program that’s focused on heart health for generations, Georgia Heart Institute has created an innovative center focused solely on patient education, healthy lifestyle behaviors, advanced screening services and support resources – spanning all types and levels of heart disease.

The Prevention Center brings together expertise from non-invasive cardiology, culinary medicine, wellness coaching, cardiopulmonary rehabilitation and more to deliver a holistic and comprehensive experience. This highly-trained team of preventative experts helps patients better understand their heart health, while also providing the expert guidance, advanced diagnostic testing and ongoing care needed to achieve and maintain long-term cardiac wellness.