Cardiologist on Hidden Causes of Heart Attack During Physical Activity: How to Prevent It The sudden death of filmmaker Sanjay Gadhvi, known for directing the popular Bollywood movie "Dhoom," has once again brought attention to the risks of heart attacks during physical activity. Gadhvi, 56, tragically passed away while he was out for a morning walk. It serves as a reminder that heart attacks can occur even during seemingly harmless activities like walking. In this article, we will explore the hidden causes of heart attacks during physical activity and discuss preventive measures. Physical activity, including exercises like walking, running, or cycling, is generally considered beneficial for heart health. However, certain factors can increase the risk of a heart attack occurring during these activities. One of the main culprits is the presence of underlying heart conditions, such as coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease occurs when the arteries supplying blood to the heart become narrowed or blocked. This reduces oxygen-rich blood flow to the heart muscle, leading to chest pain or discomfort known as angina. If a plaque buildup in the artery ruptures, it can completely block blood flow, resulting in a heart attack. Another hidden cause of heart attacks during physical activity is plaque instability. Plaque is a mixture of cholesterol, fat, calcium, and other substances that accumulate within the arteries. Over time, these plaques can become unstable and prone to rupture. Physical activity can increase the stress on these plaques, potentially causing them to burst and trigger a heart attack. In addition to underlying heart conditions and plaque instability, other factors can also contribute to heart attacks during physical activity. These include: 1. Excessive exertion: Engaging in intense exercise without gradual warm-up or conditioning can put undue stress on the heart. Sudden bursts of high-intensity exercise, especially for individuals who are not regularly active, can increase the risk of a heart attack. 2. Extreme temperatures: Exercising in extreme heat or cold can strain the heart and blood vessels. High temperatures can cause dehydration and blood vessel dilation, while extremely cold temperatures can constrict blood vessels, disrupting blood flow. 3. Emotional stress: Intense emotions like anger, grief, or anxiety can trigger physiological responses that increase the strain on the heart. When combined with physical exertion, emotional stress can significantly raise the risk of a heart attack. While the risk of a heart attack during physical activity exists, there are steps individuals can take to prevent these episodes: 1. Prioritize regular cardiovascular exercise: Engaging in regular cardiovascular exercise, such as walking or jogging, helps improve heart health and reduces the risk of heart attacks. It is essential to start slow and gradually increase the intensity and duration of exercise under the guidance of a healthcare professional. 2. Warm-up and cool-down: Always warm up before starting any vigorous exercise routine. This helps prepare the body for physical exertion and prevents sudden stress on the heart. Cooling down afterward also promotes a smooth transition back to a resting state. 3. Stay hydrated: Proper hydration is essential for maintaining heart health. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after physical activity, especially in hot weather. 4. Know and respect your body's limits: Pay attention to your body's signals and adjust the intensity of your exercise accordingly. If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or any concerning symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. 5. Manage stress levels: Practicing stress-management techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or engaging in calming activities, can help reduce emotional stress and its impact on the heart. In conclusion, heart attacks can occur during physical activity, even in individuals who seemingly appear healthy. Underlying heart conditions, plaque instability, excessive exertion, extreme temperatures, and emotional stress can all contribute to these episodes. However, by prioritizing regular exercise, warming up and cooling down, staying hydrated, respecting physical limits, and managing stress levels, individuals can reduce the risk of experiencing a heart attack during physical activity. It is crucial to listen to your body and seek medical attention if any concerning symptoms arise. Remember, prevention is key when it comes to heart health.
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