5 Surprising Heart Attack Triggers – And How to Avoid Them

Heart attacks seem as though they come out of the blue, but most don’t. Clogged arteries are often the root of heart attacks, but there is usually something else that triggers them. Here are some common yet surprising heart attack triggers:

    • Waking up. Your risk of heart attack increases 40 percent in the morning.
      Why? As you wake up in the morning, your body secretes adrenaline and other stress hormones, increasing blood pressure and a demand for oxygen. Your blood is also thicker and harder to pump because you’re partially dehydrated. All this taxes your heart. Build some extra time into your morning schedule so you can wake up slowly. If you’re a morning exerciser, warm up thoroughly to reduce additional stress to your heart.


    • Sudden, strenuous exertion. Regular aerobic exercise keeps your heart healthy. But, people who are sedentary should be careful before attempting intense exercise, as it can lead to a heart attack. Talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program, and increase your intensity level gradually.


    • Anger. All strong emotions increase adrenaline output, heart rate and the stickiness of red blood cells, which combined can trigger a heart attack. Men who are quick to anger are more likely to develop premature heart disease and five times more likely to have an early heart attack. Talk with your doctor or a psychologist about ways to manage extreme emotions.


    • Infections. Common forms of influenza and respiratory tract infections can raise your risk of suffering a heart attack due to an inflammatory response in your body that puts excess stress on your heart. To protect yourself, get a flu shot.


  • Eating a big meal. Eating a heavy meal can trigger a heart attack, especially in people who already have heart disease. Heavy eating can raise your levels of norepinephrine, a hormone that can increase blood pressure and heart rate. The temporary rise in blood pressure creates extra work for the heart. Avoid foods high in fat and calories and keep your portion sizes reasonable.

Determine if you’re at risk for heart disease. Take our free heart health assessment.

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