Cycling has always been touted as being good for health, but now a study has found that it is actually one of the biggest triggers of heart attacks.

The study, which analysed 36 pieces of research on everyday risks, proves that the "final straw" in bringing on a heart attack is spending time in traffic as a driver, cyclist or commuter.

But of the three, cyclists are in greatest danger because they are more heavily exposed to pollution and are subjecting themselves to another major heart attack trigger, exercise.

Traffic exposure was blamed for 7.4 per cent of heart attacks, followed by physical exertion with 6.2 per cent, while air pollution triggered between 5 per cent and 7 per cent of heart attacks, and drinking alcohol or coffee accounted for 5 per cent.

Other risk factors included negative emotions (3.9 per cent), anger (3.1 per cent), eating a heavy meal (2.7 per cent), positive emotions (2.4 per cent) and sexual activity (2.2 per cent).

Cocaine was to blame for 0.9 per cent of heart attacks, but this was because of limited exposure to the drug among the population.

According to the study, led by Dr Tim Nawrot, from Hasselt University in Belgium, on an individual basis, taking cocaine was shown to raise a person''s risk of having a heart attack 23-fold.

In comparison, air pollution led to a 5 per cent extra risk, but since far more people are exposed to traffic fumes and factory emissions than cocaine, air quality is a far more important population-wide threat.

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