The Most Surprising Things That Can Trigger a Heart Attack

You may think heart attacks are completely unpredictable. But there are actually certain factors that can play a role — some you may not expect. With help from WebMD, we look at 15 surprising things that can trigger a heart attack. (Page 9 is just plain scary.)

1. Pollution

Brown coal power plant emission | VanderWolf-Images / iStock/ Getty Images

“Heart attacks are more common when air pollution levels are high,” WebMD tells us. They say individuals who sit in traffic regularly have a heightened risk of heart problems because they are inhaling car exhaust.

Next: An interesting link …

2. Migraines

Migraine | demaerre / iStock/ Getty Images

Multiple studies have found there are links between migraine headaches and heart attack risk. Migraines that includes auras — strange sounds and sights that accompany the headache — have an even stronger link to heart problems.

Next: We had no idea …

3. Lack of slee

Sleepless | natalie_board/ iStock/ Getty Images

Studies have shown that a lack of sleep can raise blood pressure and cause inflammation, WebMD says. They point to a study that found people who get less than six hours of sleep a night are twice as likely to have a heart attack.

Next: Think before you fill up …

4. A heavy meal

Burger and fries about to get eaten | Bealf Photography/ iStock/ Getty Images

Going back for second or third helpings in one sitting raises the body’s production of norepinephrine — a stress hormone that raises your blood pressure.

Next: This is s bit terrifying …

5. Intense emotions — even positive ones

Birth | kieferpix/ iStock/ Getty Images

“Anger, grief, and stress are known triggers of heart problems, but joyful events can sometimes lead to a heart attack as well,” WebMD says. But while things like the birth of a grandchild may up your heart rate, it’s more likely stress-induced negative emotions put your heart at risk.

Next: It’s all about balance …

6. Sudden exertion

Lifting weights | FlamingoImages / iStock/ Getty Images

Working out is great, but too much physical activity can put your heart at risk. It’s important not to overdue it, even if you’re angry and trying to blow off steam.

Next: This is to be expected …

7. Being sick

Sick | Jelena Danilovic/ iStock/ Getty Images

When you have a cold or the flu, it causes inflammation that can hurt your arteries and inevitably heighten your heart attack risk. There is some good news though — your risk goes down once you get well.

Next: Caution …

8. Having an asthma attack

Asthma | Remains/ iStock/ Getty Images

“Your chances of having a heart attack go up about 70% if you have this lung disease,” WebMD says. To make matters worse, those who suffer from asthma may be more likely to ignore chest tightness, which can be an early sign of a heart attack.

Next: This is a terrifying way to trigger a heart attack …

9. Getting out of bed

Clock on the bed in the morning | manop1984/ iStock/ Getty Images

Heart attacks more often in the morning, WebMD tells us. This is in part because your brain floods the body with hormones when you very first wake up in the morning and it can shock your heart.

Next: We had no idea this was a factor …

10. Cold weather

Freezing | MarianVejcik/ iStock/ Getty Images

It’s true. Being outside in cold temperatures makes your arteries narrow and therefore makes it more difficult for your heart to pump the blood needed to heat your body, WebMD tells us. Makes you rethink going out and playing in the snow, doesn’t it?

Next: We can see how this would be a problem …

11. Experiencing disasters

Caution tape | krblokhin/ iStock/ Getty Images

Both natural and man-made disasters cause your stress levels to spike and therefore raise your risk of having a heart attack. The key here is to have strategies for managing your stress, even for a few years after the disaster occurs.

Next: At least the risk isn’t too great …

12. Sexual activity

Close up of the legs of a couple on the bed | trumzz/ iStock/ Getty Images

Like with over-exerting yourself with exercise, sexual activity can heighten your risk of a heart attack. But as WebMD assures us, the risk is very low if you get enough exercise to keep your heart healthy.

Next: This next factor, however, can have a very big impact …

13. Drinking too much alcohol

Drinks | MaximFesenko/ iStock/ Getty Images

Like with so many other things in life, alcohol is fine in moderation and not-so-fine when consumed in copious amounts. Over time, heavy drinking can lead to raised blood pressure and increased bad cholesterol — both of which put your heart at risk.

Next: Along those same lines …

14. Drinking too much coffee

Coffee | nerudol/ iStock/ Getty Images

When it comes to coffee’s connection to the heart, the results are mixed. In general, WebMD says, regular coffee drinkers have less plaque in their arteries. However, caffeine has also been connected to raised blood pressure, especially in individuals who don’t consume it very often.

Next: Last but not least …

15. Getting too into spectator sports

Friends cheering sport at bar together | Rawpixel/ iStock/ Getty Images

As it turns out, heart attack cases go up around major sporting events like the World Cup and the Super Bowl. Maybe give your ticker a break when it comes to your favorite team, okay?

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