May 6, 2011

Daily Activities That May Trigger A Heart Attack

Can drinking coffee kill you? How about strenuous exercise or blowing your nose? These and other seemingly benign activities that we engage in everyday may just trigger a specific kind of stroke after raising your blood pressure, The Guardian reports.

Nearly a quarter of all cases of a blood vessel bursting in the brain can be set in motion by these three activities. An estimated 1,800 people in Britain die from such a stroke every year.

These three things topped a list of eight triggers that could rupture bulges in the walls of blood vessels in the brain. The other primary triggers were sex, straining on the toilet, drinking cola and being startled or angry.

Each of these activities causes a sudden, often brief, surge in blood pressure.

Between 1 and 6 percent of the UK population suffers from a brain aneurysm, according to NHS estimates. The base of the brain is where the majority of them occur, but they tend to go unnoticed because they hardly ever cause symptoms. It is not clear what they are caused by, but a family history of aneurysms, high blood pressure and smoking are all risk factors.

Although it is rare for brain aneurysms to rupture, it can cause bleeding and sometimes fatal brain damage. Around a third of patients with a brain hemorrhage expire within a month, and some 15 percent will require long-term medical care.

Only about 10 percent recover well enough to return to an active, normal life.

Researchers created the list by asking patients and their care givers a questionnaire on what they were doing shortly before they had a stroke. The findings are expected to help with strategies to prevent strokes such as advising people at risk to reduce their coffee intake or strenuous exercise. The study was published in the journal Stroke.

"One of the major reasons we did this study was to understand better why some aneurysms burst and others don't," said Ale Algra, a clinical epidemiologist at the Utrecht Stroke Center and the Julius Center for Health and Primary Care in Utrecht, the Netherlands. "We wanted to know if there were specific triggers behind these events."

Two-hundred and fifty patients who had experienced a burst aneurysm, had their information collected by a team led by neurologist Monique Vlak, who then worked out what fraction of hemorrhages in the wider population could be attributed to each activity.

Drinking coffee within the past hour was most strongly linked with ruptured aneurysms, accounting for an estimated 10.6 percent, with vigorous exercise at 7.9 percent. Blowing ones nose followed at 5.4 percent.

"It's very difficult to determine whether the triggers identified in this study are definitely related to the onset of a stroke as they could simply be put down to coincidence. A lot more research needs to be carried out to assess whether each of the identified triggers could directly cause an aneurysm to rupture," explains Sharlin Ahmed from the Stroke Association.


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