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5 Surprising Triggers That Can Cause a Heart Attack

by Elyse Loeb
heart attack triggers

Heart attacks may seem like they come out of the blue, but most don’t. We know that clogged arteries are the root of heart attacks, but there is usually something else that triggers them. Here are some common yet surprising heart attack triggers.

heart attack triggers

5 Heart Attack Triggers

1) Traffic pollution

Commuters beware: It turns out that being exposed to traffic pollution can cause a higher risk of heart attack for up to six hours after the exposure.

Related Article: 11 Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy

2) Physical exertion

This accounts for just over 6 percent of cases, but we’re not talking about the good kind of exertion that comes from exercise. Rather, people who are sedentary most of the time, and then suddenly engage in heavy-duty physical activity, are at higher risk.

“The risk is higher for those who are occasional exercisers compared to habitual exercisers,” says researcher Issa Dahabreh, MD, a research associate at the Center for Clinical Evidence Synthesis. So what can you do about it?  Well, the most important thing to avoid this trigger is to get in shape, and maintain it.

“Overall, the bottom line? For susceptible people who engage in vigorous activity — whether exercise or sex — ”yes, the transient risk of a catastrophic cardiac event increases during and immediately after that period,” Franklin says. However, when people are in good physical condition, ”the risk is essentially non-existent or very, very slightly increased.””

3) Alcohol and coffee

These drinks each contribute about 5% to the total risk of triggering a heart attack.

Heavy alcohol intake is thought to increase inflammation and interfere with your body’s ability to dissolve blood clots.

Coffee, on the other hand, seems to work in exactly the opposite way. Most studies linking coffee to heart disease have found that people who drink it less frequently are more prone to heart attacks than people who drink a lot of coffee.

4) Sex

According to studies, this activity increases your chance of heart attack by 2.2 percent. The horizontal activity seems to raise blood pressure and heart rates, triggering a cardiac event.

“Doctors have long known that physical activity can cause serious heart problems, but the new study helps to quantify that risk”, according to Issa Dahabreh of Tufts Medical Center in Boston, whose study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The team analyzed data from 14 studies looking at the link between exercise, sex, and the risk of heart attacks or sudden cardiac death — a lethal heart rhythm that causes the heart to stop circulating blood. They found people are 3.5 times more likely to get a heart attack or have sudden cardiac death when they are exercising compared with when they are not. And they are 2.7 times more likely to get a heart attack when they are having sex or immediately afterward compared with when they are not.

These findings do not apply to sudden cardiac death because there were no studies looking at the link between sex and cardiac death.”

The good news, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is that regular exercise can keep you from succumbing to a sex-induced heart attack.

Related Article: 6 Surprising Ways to Lower Blood Pressure

5) Intense emotions

Strong emotions enhance the chance of a heart attack, even if they’re good ones. Anger and negative emotions contribute almost 7% while positive emotions only contribute about 2.5%. All strong emotions increase adrenaline output, heart rate, and the stickiness of red blood cells, which combined can trigger a heart attack.

Related Article: How to Manage Stress without Alcohol or Drugs

The Takeaway

Although your lifestyle and genetics can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, there are specific heart attack triggers to watch out for if you’re already high risk. Watch out for traffic pollution, spikes in exercise, coffee & alcohol, sex, and intense emotions if you want to keep your ticker ticking away for years to come.

Photo by michbanks

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deco Martinez November 28, 2013 - 2:39 pm

Right , so ur telling us we can’t drink our two most favoured types of drink, we shouldn’t drive, should be a virgin, not to do exercise at high intensity and be a robot … I think I’d rather live my life and die at 50.

rabbitinred January 1, 2014 - 11:24 pm

It says drink MORE coffee. Read it again

Eddie February 21, 2014 - 12:14 am

Nail on the Head! Love it! So right.

mark spires November 14, 2013 - 1:38 pm

Wow! Traffic pollution. Ya, that makes sense!

Comments are closed.

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