Heart-stopping traffic jams
Sitting in traffic is responsible for more heart attacks than cocaine, alcohol and caffeine, according to a new study published in The Lancet.
Thu, Feb 24 2011 at 5:01 PM
In the post, Grist’s Christopher Mims reports on a study published in the medical journal The Lancet — which has the much more boring title of Public health importance of triggers of myocardial infarction: a comparative risk assessment
— and boils down the news coverage of that study. The gist? Sure, snorting cocaine will seriously up your individual risk of a heart attack, but legal and more common everyday activities like sitting in traffic have a much bigger effect on the general population, making wasting time in a traffic snarl one of the most dangerous activities for the heart.
What about greener commuters who still have to contend with traffic? One alarming headline from the Mail UK reads “Why cycling to work is one of the biggest causes of heart attacks
” — but cyclists should not let that headline convince them to suddenly swap their two pedals for the gas pedal. The Mail first scares bicycle riders by noting that “cyclists are in greatest danger because they are more heavily exposed to pollution and are subjecting themselves to another major heart attack trigger, exercise” — but then goes on to give a bigger picture of cyclists’ health later on in the article:
Judy O’Sullivan, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said the benefits of exercising outdoors outweighed the risks from air pollution for most individuals, and urged people not to be put off running, walking or cycling in towns and cities.
Other headlines this week have bemoaned the cost of oil and rising gas prices — but these trends could actually have gains for human health, if they convince more people to live closer to work, ditching the long costly commutes. How far do you live from work? Have you noticed any relationship between your commute and your mental and physical health?
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