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Some surprising heart attack triggers – Ogden Clinic provided source, Standard-Examiner - 9/18/2015

OGDEN - OK. You’re mad. That’s fine, as long as you don’t explode.

Extreme emotions can take a toll on your heart, but it’s not just an angry outburst. Experts at The Cleveland Clinic report both good and bad emotions from extreme happiness to acute grief and a fit of anger can have an impact on the electrical impulses of the heart. Even a surprise party could hurt your heart.

“This is due to the body’s involuntary and sudden increase in heart rate and blood pressure brought on by a surprising event,” the report states. “Recent studies of grief have shown that the risk for heart attack is greatest within the first 24 hours of losing a close loved one and can remain high for a month after the person’s death.”

In addition, a study by John Hopkins University found men who are quick to anger are more likely to develop premature heart disease. They’re also five times more likely to suffer a heart attack earlier.

Other surprising heart attack triggers can include eating a heavy meal and strenuous activity in the cold.

“All of these triggers have to do with stress on the body. These triggers when persistent increase sympathetic tone to the heart, increasing cardiovascular demand and stress on the heart,” said Dr. Matthew Hagemeyer, a physician at Ogden Clinic.

Hagemeyer said while emotional stress and physical stress can have a very similar effect on the heart and both can negatively impact cardiovascular health, exercise, which can also be considered a physical stress on the heart can have a positive impact on heart health.

“This becomes more of a concern for people with known cardiovascular disease or significant risk factors for heart attack or stroke such as hypertension, elevated cholesterol, diabetes and chronic lung disease like COPD. It is recommended to check with your doctor if exercise is safe if people have any of these conditions,” he said.

Cold temperatures, according to the American Heart Association, can trigger a heart attack in some people because the cold causes the arteries to constrict and puts more of a strain on your heart. To reduce your risk, especially before shoveling snow, be sure to warm up and stretch, don’t shovel after eating a large meal, which also puts a strain on the heart, take frequent breaks, do not consume alcohol before shoveling, drink plenty of water and shovel several light loads instead of a few heavy loads.

Hagemeyer said just avoiding certain behaviors is not enough to protect your heart. Rather, an active lifestyle, appropriate diet and behaviors that promote health such as adequate sleep and stress reduction are important for a healthy heart.

Symptoms of a heart attack include a tightening or squeezing sensation, fullness or pain in the chest, nausea, lightheadedness, discomfort in the arms, neck, back, jaw or stomach and shortness of breath.