Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, as well as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol problems all increase the individuals risk for heart attack.
Stress and strong emotions are other commonly attributed factors, but a review of existing research (meta analysis) published this week investigated the importance and relevance of each risk factor and found that environmental factors contribute a greater portion of risk to the wider population.
image via iwanttobeadoctorshesaid
There were 36 studies which met the authors criteria for analysis to assess population risk factors, which have been cited as important to assessing individual risk factors. The authors considered exposure to certain risk factors when attributing relevance.
Risk factors assessed in this review were:
eating a heavy meal,
two groups of emotions (negative and positive) as well as
traffic exposure and
Cocaine was rated the highest risk factor at the individual level, but when looking at broader population, and considering that cocaine use is actually low across the broader population, overall group risk is drastically reduced.
image via anonymousleftie
The highest risk for population was found to be traffic exposure. There are other studies which attribute health problems to traffic exposure which include increases in levels of stress, increased blood pressure, respiratory problems and exposure to heart damaging pollutants but the authors intent is to focus on group risk. By focusing on these seemingly minor risks researchers might be better able to assess overall risk to individuals.
This research may be deemed important as populations are becoming increasingly urbanised and planning of cities and urban areas toward user friendly and more sustainable models becomes increasingly ideal. Environmental pollutants are being further investigated by the same authors.