Risk factors for heart attack are universally well-known since they increase the likelihood in just about anyone – smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and lack of exercise. But there are other risk factors that also increase the likelihood of having a myocardial infarction. Risk factors we tend to forget about until it may be too late.
Here are five forgotten risk factors to remember that can increase the chance of a heart attack. Do not get caught off-guard in an unexpected circumstance that could have been avoided.
1. Sudden, strenuous exertion
We’ve all heard stories of people who were doing something out of the ordinary, such as carrying a heavy shovel full of snow, who experience a heart attack. If a person is not physically fit and they engage in a sudden strenuous type of physical exertion, it can lead to heart attack. From carrying heavy items to exerting oneself playing a game, people who are not used to exercising and have risk factors for heart disease, are at an increased risk.
2. Strong emotions
It is actually possible from results of studies that intense anger or grief can cause a heart attack. When we get, see or are involved in some sort of completely out-of-the blue surprise, it can trigger a sudden increase in heart rate and blood pressure. However, all of us will experience these emotions in our own lifetime and live through them. Generally, people who already have heart disease or strong risk factors for it, are more likely to be impacted.
A condition called Takotsubo cardiomyopathy also known as “broken heart syndrome,” has the possibility of imitating a heart attack but is somewhat different. Women are more likely to have this particularly during time of intense grief. Heart attack-like symptoms can produce sudden heart failure which is thought to be due to arterial spasms. Once the grief lessens and treatment is given, the heart failure often resolves itself.
3. Extreme cold
When the weather turns ice cold this can cause arteries to constrict leading to a sudden increase in blood pressure. If this is combined with physical exertion such as shoveling snow, the strain can lead to a heart attack. Every year, more than 11,000 people will go to the emergency room after shoveling snow with at least seven percent of them with heart disease.
4. Eating a large meal
We all know the feeling of “Thanksgiving stuffed.” It’s when we have overeaten more than we should and for some, a heavy meal can sometimes trigger a heart attack. The reason believed to be responsible for this is that eating raises levels of the hormone epinephrine which can increase blood pressure and heart rate.
5. Having other related medical conditions
You may not have heart disease but you may have another medical condition putting you at risk of a heart attack. If a person has any of these conditions, they are advised to also be seeing a cardiologist in addition to their regular doctor.
Here is a list of certain conditions known to increase the risk of heart attack:
· Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and any other inflammatory disease which can cause inflammation in the blood vessels.
· Preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy)
· Gestational diabetes – this can greatly increase the risk of a heart attack
· Sleep apnea – this can increase the risk of heart attack by 30 percent
· Prior radiation to the chest – primarily for cancer of the left breast which can damage the heart
Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery and is an expert in robotic prostate surgery. He is chairman of urology, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital. He is a medical correspondent for the Fox News Channel's Medical A-Team. Follow Dr. Samadi on Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, SamadiMD.com and Facebook