A healthy lifestyle plays a crucial role in preventing cardiovascular disease, with regular physical activity being of great importance. However, research reveals a mistake you should avoid when protecting yourself from heart attacks.

During a heart attack, our heart suddenly and unexpectedly gets into trouble. A region no longer receives sufficient blood and oxygen. This can have fatal consequences: parts of the heart muscle can die. Or cardiac arrhythmias occur, which can lead to death if left untreated.

Along with strokes, heart attacks are considered to be one of the most dangerous cardiovascular diseases. Over 350,000 people in Germany die from them every year. This makes cardiovascular disease the number one cause of death in this country.

The good news is that everyone can do something to promote individual heart health. Because: “Cardiovascular diseases are often caused by avoidable risk factors,” explains the German Heart Foundation.

The experts name 6 factors that help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease:

Getting enough exercise is an important factor. “But even if you exercise for 2.5 hours a week to reduce your risk of heart attack, you can cancel out all the good if you drink a sugary drink or energy drink after every workout,” writes Nishith Chandra in an article for the Indian Express. The cardiologist is the director of the cardiology department at the Fortis Escorts Heart Institute in New Delhi.

He refers to a study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The scientists evaluated data from around 100,000 adults who were observed for 30 years. According to Chandra, the benefits of physical activity do not outweigh the disadvantages of sugary drinks.

“The data show that those who consumed sugary drinks more than twice a week had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, regardless of their level of physical activity,” said the expert. Just two sugary drinks a week were significantly associated with the risk of cardiovascular disease. “If consumed daily, the risk of cardiovascular disease is even higher.”

The expert explains the background as follows: “Sugar has an inflammatory effect – it damages the endothelium, which is the inner lining of the artery and blood vessel walls, and makes them permeable to cholesterol.” Even if only low levels of cholesterol were circulating in the blood, “this can penetrate the porous arteries and form plaques that trigger a heart attack.” Sugar is therefore even more dangerous than fat.

The cardiologist recommends avoiding all drinks that contain sugar, including soft drinks, lemonades, energy drinks, fruit juices and cocktails. The same goes for over-the-counter “health or sports drinks” that are sold in gyms, for example. “The best way to hydrate after training is with plain water or water that has been enriched with electrolytes.” If you like it sweeter, you can add a lemon or drink coconut water or buttermilk, as these contain more complex and therefore healthier sugars.