HOUSTON, Texas (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S. And it isn’t just traditional risk factors we need to worry about. Even minor infections can pose a risk. Heart attacks are 13 times higher in the week after respiratory infections like the common cold and 17 times higher in the week after flu-like illnesses.

High blood pressure and obesity raise our heart disease risk, but Prakash Balan, MD, JD, Interventional Cardiologist at UTHealth/Memorial Hermann says those aren’t the only dangers we need to worry about.

“There are probably many risk factors that we don’t yet fully appreciate,” Dr. Balan shared.

In fact, diet soda is now on our radar. Women who drink two every day are 30 percent more likely to have a cardiovascular event and 50 percent more likely to die of heart-related disease based on preliminary research.

“We don’t really know what those chemicals are doing to our body,” continued Dr. Balan.

Another danger? Hearing loss. Especially the kind caused by prolonged exposure to loud noise. It might double your heart disease risk.

Konstantinos Charitakis, MD, Interventional Cardiologist at UTHealth/Memorial Hermann says being a big sports fan can be a heart threat too. A recent small study showed a 110 percent jump in spectators’ heart rates.

Dr. Charitakis explained, “People that have already a blockage in coronary arteries are the ones that may develop symptoms or even a heart attack.”

But wait, there are more risks … low vitamin d levels raise heart disease rates by 32 percent. And, on the Monday after losing an hour sleep for daylight savings, heart attacks jump by 24 percent.

Dr. Balan said, “The changes related to sleep habits, the difficulty in terms of adjusting to the change in time may potentially contribute.”

In other words…

“Pay attention to your symptoms. If you’re having symptoms, get them checked out,” said Dr. Balan.

Doctors say these hidden dangers pose the most risk to people who already have underlying coronary artery disease, but not everyone who has heart disease knows it. The best advice? Get a baseline assessment of your heart health to know exactly where you stand.