Surprising risk factors for a heart attack

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a heart attack

More than 800,000 people in the US have a heart attack. There are some hidden risk factors that increase your chances for having a heart attack.

ORLANDO, Fla. – February is American Heart Month and every year more than 800,000 people in the U.S. have a heart attack.

Diet and level of exercise are well-known factors in your risk for a heart attack, but there are some hidden risk factors that can increase your chances for a heart attack.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a heart attack. Smoking is a much more important risk factor for a heart attack than high cholesterol, obesity, high blood pressure, or stress and if you smoke, your chance of dying from a heart attack is two to three times greater than that of a person who does not smoke. However, this risk is not only limited to tobacco.

Cynthia Fontanella, Ph.D., Dept. of Psychiatry & Behavioral Health at The Ohio State University says that “The common misconceptions and attitudes are that marijuana is harmless, which it’s not.”

In a study published in the American College of Cardiology, compared with tobacco, smoking marijuana causes a fivefold greater impairment of the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity and marijuana use is associated with twice the hazard death among those under 50 who suffered their first heart attack. Being a sports fan can also put your heart at risk. A Canadian study showed a 110 percent jump in spectators’ heart rates when watching a sporting event. And the loss of a child increased the risk for a heart attack threefold in the first week after the death and there was a 20 to 40 percent increase over the long term.

One lesser-known factor that can decrease your risk for a heart attack is taking a bath. A Japanese study published in the journal heart found taking a daily bath was associated with a 28 percent lower overall risk of heart disease.