By Dr. Randy Eichner
A new heart attack trigger has been found. In a German study of 691 heart attack survivors, exposure to traffic doubled the risk of heart attack for an hour. In other words, compared to other times of the day or night, you're twice as likely to have a heart attack during rush hour.
Why traffic causes heart attacks is debated. The German researchers suggest air pollution plays a role, but a Seattle study finds no link between pollution and heart attack risk. Maybe the mental stress of traffic is the
The more we learn about what triggers heart attacks in folks with underlying heart disease, the more heart attacks we can prevent. At least half of all heart attacks track to a trigger.
Sudden exertion is the most common trigger: Up to 15 percent of all heart
attacks occur during or soon after vigorous exercise, mostly in unfit men.
So stay fit: Never take your heart by surprise.
Sudden fear or grief is another trigger. On the day of the 1994 earthquake near Los Angeles, the rate of fatal heart attacks nearby rose five-fold.
And temper tantrums tax your ticker. Harvard researchers probed the behavior of 1,600 heart attack survivors on the day of their attack versus the day before.
Result: More survivors had been furious just before their attack than they
were the day before. Conclusion: A tantrum doubles your risk of heart attack for two hours.
Cold weather can also be a trigger, partly by raising blood pressure. If you have heart disease, bundle up in the cold.
Alas, even morning is a trigger. Heart attacks are most common in the
morning. Why? Because when you rise to face the world, your body floods with stress hormones that make the heart work harder.
Sleeping until noon won't work. No matter when you get up, your first three hours up are the "heart attack hours." That's life.
Hint to those not born yesterday: Marijuana and cocaine can also be heart attack triggers, especially in middle-age men. Alcohol binges too. Enough
Even soccer shoot-outs are triggers. Researchers studied heart attack trends after England lost a World Cup game in a shoot-out.
Losing was "heart-breaking" for the British fans. In the two days after the
game, hospital admissions for heart attack rose 25 percent.
Try to remember: Football is only a game.
Post Edited (SaraTG) : 9/18/2005 5:47:50 AM (GMT-6)