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Can Rush Hour Traffic Increase Your Risk for a Heart Attack?

Posted Mar 17 2009 4:25am

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  We have all been stuck in traffic, some people experience traffic everyday.


A new research study presented at the American Heart Association’s 49th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention suggests that being stuck in traffic CAN actually increase your risk for a heart attack.   Over 1,400 people who had heart attacks were studied and many of these patients had been in a traffic jam one hour prior to their heart attack.   A total of 8% of the heart attacks were attributed to traffic jams. Heart attack vulnerable people (people with several risk factors for heart disease) were 3 times more likely to suffer a heart attack if they had been in heavy traffic one hour before their heart attack.   Women (a woman’s risk was five times higher), people who were unemployed and elderly men were more likely to be affected by the traffic. The mode of transportation did not matter (public transportation, driving a car or even riding a bicycle).   The researchers are not sure why they found this association, possibly heavy pollution was the culprit or increased stress, or a combination of the two?   This is a new risk factor we need to consider and evaluate further.   People at low risk for heart disease do not need to be as concerned as people who already have several risk factors for heart disease.   It’s important for everyone who experiences any type of traffic to make sure they know what their risk factors for heart disease are and to try and modify their risk with heart healthy habits.


“Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” is our new book about women and heart disease which discusses both modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors and offers ways to develop heart healthy lifestyles. For more information please visit

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