Acute risk factors for myocardial infarction

Int J Cardiol. 2007 Apr 25;117(2):260-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2006.05.011. Epub 2006 Jul 24.


Increased knowledge concerning the triggering of acute cardiovascular diseases has yielded a change in philosophical approach to this field. During the last decade, clinical evidence suggested that the term acute risk factors can be used for the activities and events that suddenly and transiently increase the risk of acute cardiac diseases. External triggers, such as heavy physical activity, emotional stress, eating, cold or heat exposure, coffee or alcohol consumption, cocaine or marijuana use and sexual intercourse are recognized as most important acute risk factors. It is likely that the morning hours may be considered as an endogenous, external triggering independent acute risk factor related to physiological sympathetic arousal. The features of triggering have been best described for an acute myocardial infarction whose moment of onset appears to be the result of a dynamic interaction between an endogenous response to acute risk factors and patient vulnerability. In this article, pathophysiological changes implicated as internal triggering mechanisms are summarized and the terms sympathetic and parasympathetic triggering patterns are introduced. A highly individual approach tailored both to protect against acute risk factors and to reduce patient vulnerability could provide a more complete protection from myocardial infarction and other coronary incidents. Lifestyle modifications, regular physical activity and adequate drug regimens may at least prove able to defer the occurrence of coronary thrombosis, thereby providing time for the development of collateral vessels, plaque stabilization or invasive/surgical treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiopathology
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology*
  • Myocardial Infarction / physiopathology*
  • Risk Factors