How My Commute Almost Killed Me

trafficToo much alcohol will kill you. Too much coffee, too. Stress, smoking, high cholesterol, yup, yup, yeah. Being obese is another risk factor for heart disease that is drilled into our heads every time we turn on the news. But, researchers have yet to really come out and say that sitting in traffic is going to give you a heart attack. (Though just ask anyone who lives in Greater NYC what they think about that, and they'll nod, scowl, and respond, "No ***BLEEP***!")

But now, we have proof that bumper-to-bumper traffic is a killer! A new review study found that no individual risk factors (like alcohol consumption or weight) account for as many heart attacks as the quality of the air we breathe. And exposure to traffic, which can increase blood pressure as well as absorption of heart-harming exhaust, posed the greatest relative risk to the heart, reports Time magazine.


I dunno about you, but this conclusion is REVOLUTIONARY to me, having been a young woman who thought her head might explode at times due to the stress of sitting in hell-ish George Washington Bridge traffic day after day after day. (My commute was 13.4 miles, and there were days it would take me almost TWO hours. AGHHHH!!!)

It is a miracle, a wonderful, amazing, lovely thing that I am very, very, very, very grateful for not having to endure any longer. And now I know that my chances of a heart attack are likely a lot less -- YES!

Sorry, I don't mean to gloat. And not that it's any consolation, but I still have to sit in traffic to do errands or go out with my boyfriend and our friends or family. We all do, whether or not we have to drive to and from work every day. It feels like every day our cities and towns are getting more and more crowded, and traffic just gets worse and worse. 

In fact, right now, I'm looking out the window at rows and rows of cars in front of my apartment building, honking at one another. (Like that's going to change anything! Idiots.) They're stuck whether they like it or not, because a train is stopping, and the red light won't change for a good five minutes. Who knows how long some of these people have been sitting in their cars, perhaps with their windows cracked? They're breathing nasty exhaust from other people's cars and tweaking out about getting to their tanning appointment in time.

At least now science is proving that it's a recipe for disaster! Maybe if scientists can drill it into our thick skulls that driving everywhere = death, we might attempt to dial down our stress levels behind the wheel and even shave off some of the time we spend in the car. Or not. After all, with all of the new research out about the risks of obesity, we're fatter than ever. Considering that, researchers might just want to quit while they're ahead!

Do you think the amount of time you spend in traffic is increasing your heart attack risk?


Image via Marcin Wichary/Flickr

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