A breakup isn’t the only thing that can leave you with a broken heart: The combination of diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure can give your ticker a major beating , finds recent research from Northwestern University.
Okay, that’s probably the least surprising news you’ll hear all day. But the stats still jump out: In the study, men at age 45 who weren’t diagnosed with any of those three diseases lived free of heart failure—a chronic, progressive condition in which your heart can’t pump enough blood through your body—an average of nearly 11 years longer than guys who had all of the disorders at that age.
The combo was especially deadly, but each condition presents its own problems. For example, men who didn’t have diabetes at 45 developed heart failure over 8 years later than diabetic participants.
Now, this doesn’t mean that every guy in the study experienced ticker trouble some time in their lives—or that just because you’re free of those conditions at age 45, you’re absolved of heart issues later on, says study coauthor Faraz Ahmad, M.D.
High blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes all hurt how your chief organ operates. They jack up your risk of coronary heart disease, one condition that causes heart failure, says Prediman Shah, M.D., a Men’s Health cardiology advisor.
These diseases can also lead to inflammation and cholesterol buildup, which contributes to a heart attack, says Dr. Shah.
It’s not clear from the study if developing these conditions before 45—but then getting them under control—can reduce your chances of heart failure, the researchers say. So your smartest bet is playing the prevention game, which gives you the greatest chance at a longer, healthier life.