Age, weight and family history are all known factors for a heart attack, but there are other, less obvious situations that can put even healthy, fit adults in cardiac jeopardy.
- You live near a highway. We all know being stuck in traffic is enough to make your blood boil, but even hearing traffic can increase your risk of a heart attack. According to new research, for every 10-decibel increase in noise from nearby traffic, heart attack risk goes up by 12%. Other than moving, researchers suggest regular stress-reducing activities (such as yoga) if you’re living life near the fast lane.
- You just woke up. Mornings are not the best part of the day for most of us, but it’s also not the best part of the day for your heart. Before you wake up, stress hormones make their way into the bloodstream, which helps you get out of bed but also stresses your heart. These, as well as dehydration that occurs overnight (and can be made worse by night-before-drinking), can increase that stress, which research says may be the reason heart attacks often occur in the morning. Protect your heart by drinking a big glass of water before you go to bed.
- And it’s Monday morning. Research has consistently shown that Monday is the days of the week in which heart attacks are most likely to occur. The reason is the usual morning heart stress combined with anxiety and – depending on your job – depression about starting your work week (depression and anxiety can both cause increased heart rate and variability). End your weekend with yoga followed by a funny movie – research also shows that laughter can reduce heart-unhealthy stress hormones.
- You’ve lost a loved one. It’s not wrong to feel as though your heart is literally breaking. According to research from the American Heart Association, changes in normal heart patterns immediately following the death of a loved one could lead to heart abnormalities and increased risk of heart attack. The study also showed that time does heal all wounds; participants’ heart rate and other indicators of heart health returned to normal after 6 months, which just underscores the importance of taking care of yourself during times of extreme stress and grief.
- You celebrated too much. During holidays (such as the upcoming Labor Day), people often eat and drink too much. And alcohol combined with high-fat and sodium-heavy foods can cause an irregular heartbeat. This risk even has a name: holiday heart syndrome. Cold temps can also elevate your risk, but since this is August, you have a few months before you have to worry.