Heart attack causes
There are many risk factors that can affect your chances of having a heart attack, ranging from your family health history to so many of the lifestyle choices you make. A few of these – like your genetics and your age – are out of your control. But you have lots of influence over many behaviours that can affect your risk of heart disease.
Some of the major risk factors for heart attack are smoking, being overweight, not getting enough exercise, type 2 diabetes, and eating a diet that’s not heart healthy. That means an unhealthy eating pattern over time, including consuming too many kilojoules, sugary foods and drinks, as well as not choosing healthy fats over saturated fat.
But some behaviours might not be so obvious. Maybe you get mad easily or you spend most of your time in front of a computer. Or it could simply be that you live in a smoggy place or don’t get enough sleep every night.
These are some things that are associated with a higher risk of heart attack, rather than a proven cause. (They’re not the same as risk factors, like diet.) However, the more of these things that you do, the more your risk may add up.
You get angry over the littlest things
Tend to morph into the Incredible Hulk when you’re upset? Those fiery emotions may increase your risk for a heart attack, according to research published in 2015 in the European Heart Journal.
Researchers at the University of Australia questioned 313 patients who had suspected heart attacks about their anger levels before the onset of symptoms. They found that patients were 8.5 times more likely to have a heart attack in the two hours following an intense outburst of anger, defined as ‘very angry, body tense, clenching fists or teeth’ compared with other times when they were less angry.
The findings suggest that if you have an episode of intense anger, it could increase your risk of heart attack in the subsequent hours.
You spend most of your time in front of a screen
Yes, that includes working on your computer. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in 2011 found that people who watch TV or work on a computer for four or more hours a day have more than double the risk of a cardiovascular disease event, like a heart attack, than those who spend less than two hours looking at a screen.
Long periods of sitting deplete the body’s supply of lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme that breaks down fat and prevents clogged arteries. If you spend most of your day plopped behind a desk, take a brief walk after every 20 minutes or try a standing desk. You can burn 30 per cent more kilojoules when you stand than when you sit.