Heart Attack Triggers

Some lesser-known situations and stressors can contribute to a heart attack, including:

Driving in traffic
The stress from your commute can triple your likelihood.

Your chances increase 20 percent the first day of the week. 

The morning
During the early hours of the morning, you're 40 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack than at any other time of the day. Several factors contribute to this phenomenon: hormone levels, medication (which may be at a lower or higher level), and dehydration. Severe dehydration will cause the blood to thicken and increase the tendency to clot.

Speaking at a podium
Situations such as public speaking ignite the fight or flight response, a physiological stress reaction that elevates heart rate, blood pressure and adrenaline.

Consuming a high-fat, high-carb meal
"You can think of it as the sludge in your vessels," ER physician Dr. Travis Stork says. "Your vessels might be less compliant after a high-fat meal."

Shoveling snow
The vigorous nature of this winter activity, which is often performed without any warm-up time and by people who are not ordinarily physically active, can triple your chances.

Having a bowel movement
"If you're constipated, and really straining on the toilet, it increases what's called your intra-thoracic pressure," Dr. Travis explains. "That decreases blood returned to your heart and makes your heart work harder."

To keep stool at a healthy viscosity, be sure to add plenty of fiber and fluids to your diet.

• Tips to prevent a heart attack
Heart disease and heart attacks
• Heart health quiz • Silent heart attack
• Heart transplants • Heart tests
• Heart palpitations
• Cholesterol