Little-Known Heart Attack and Stroke Triggers: New Insights

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Bottom Line Health


Cardiovascular disease causes one out of every three deaths in the US—and it has three main henchmen…

Heart attack, when a blocked cardiac artery cuts off blood flow to the heart muscle, affecting about 735,000 people each year.

Sudden cardiac death (SCD), commonly known as cardiac arrest, when chaotic activity in the heart’s electrical system causes it to stop functioning—a condition that strikes 325,000 people yearly.

Ischemic stroke, when blood flow is blocked to the brain, occurring in nearly 800,000 people every year.

If you ask most cardiologists what leads to these “acute cardiovascular events,” they’ll talk about conventional risk factors, such as elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, a sedentary lifestyle, diabetes and smoking.

There’s more to the story: Roughly half of all acute cardiovascular events are precipitated by little-known physical, emotional and chemical stressors, according to research. Exposure to these stressors can trigger a sudden, potentially harmful increase in the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, the “fight-or-flight” mechanism that prepares the body to respond to stress by temporarily accelerating heart rate, raising blood pressure and increasing blood clotting.

Because an estimated 85% of adults over age 50 have some degree of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, largely due to the risk factors listed above, the already-compromised arteries of the heart muscle or brain may not be able to handle these abrupt physiological changes…and you can end up suffering a heart attack, SCD or stroke