6 Common Heart Attack Triggers

Like a thief in the night, heart attack comes without warning. There are a number of well-documented causes that set off a heart attack. But Belgian researchers have ranked these triggers according to their commonness in people already at risk for heart problems.

Caught in a Traffic Jam: Getting stuck during rush hour may not be good for the vulnerable ones. According to research, traffic jams trigger 8 percent of heart attacks. This affects drivers and passengers alike.

Sudden Physical Exertion: Accounting for 6 percent of heart attack occurrences is the sudden and heavy-duty physical exertion. People who lead a sedentary lifestyle should not engage in strenuous and heavy exercise suddenly. Rather, the process should be measured and gradual so as not to shock the body and cause heart attack.

Alcohol and Coffee: These beverages add up to 5 percent of all heart attack triggers. Doctors believe that too much alcohol can cause inflammation and affect the body's ability to dispel blood clots. However, a glass of wine can produce beneficial results and help avert heart problems. The key here is drinking in moderation.

Air Pollution: This accounts for 4.75 percent of heart attack triggers. Vehicle exhaust and smog are silent killers, which are very difficult to avoid. Instead of focusing on protecting oneself from air pollution, try minimizing the risk of heart problems by other means, like eating right or lowering stress levels.

Emotions: Jeffrey Rossman, PhD, of Life Management at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts, says, “Both intense positive and intense negative emotions can cause stress to the body.” Strong negative emotions contribute to nearly 7 percent of heart attack triggers while intense positive emotions clock in at 2.5 percent. However, Dr. Rossman says we should try to embrace positivity more than negativity, “Positive emotions generally result in more balanced heart rhythms than negative emotions, and disrupted heart rhythms are a contributing factor in some heart attacks.”

Sex: While the risk is low for healthy people, sex can trigger heart attack for those at risk of heart disease by 2.2 percent because it increases the heart rates and blood pressure. Regular exercise can help lower the risk of heart attack during sex.

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