Cycling to work is one of the biggest causes of heart attacks

So here you have it, cycling kills.  A report from the Daily Mail about how cyclists risk life and limb at the wheels of other road users?  Well no, not quite.  But how cycling causes heart attacks.  Or does it?

Well the article opens with a pretty convincing statement:

As any city cyclist will know, riding your bike in heavy traffic can be, metaphorically speaking, a heartstopping experience.  But now research has found that it is literally one of the biggest triggers of heart attacks.

So blimey, maybe I had better hand in the key to my Boris bike and demand a refund.

Let’s read on:

In a new sliding scale of everyday risks that prove the ‘final straw’ in bringing on a heart attack, spending time in traffic – as a driver, cyclist or commuter – tops the list because of factors including stress and exposure to pollution.

Ah so, the survey included all road users and the headline writer thought, “let’s exploit the Clarkson effect and write a headline about cyclists.  Bound to get people to read it”.  Well yes that worked and it suckered me in.

But my sense of relief was very short lived:

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

That’s it.  I am going to sue the NHS, my GP, sell my bike and become a couch potato who only drives a car.  After all, I would not want to do anything that might trigger a major heart attack like exercise.  But hold on, doesn’t exercise include things such as jogging not just riding a bike.  Strange but I must have missed the reference to jogging in the city (or walking as isn’t that exercise too?).

Read on McDuff:

Traffic exposure was blamed for 7.4 per cent of heart attacks, followed by physical exertion with 6.2 per cent.

So let’s not be daft and think that traffic exposure might also include being scared witless trying to cross the road – although that really can be stressful.  Adding those two snippets of information together has started to get me worried.  Does this now mean I have a 13.6% chance of getting a heart attack because I cycle in traffic?

I have to admit, reading the next part of the article, I am starting to get a little confused.  I’ll summarise:

Overall air pollution triggered between 5 per cent and 7 per cent of heart attacks, while drinking alcohol or coffee accounted for 5 per cent.

Hang on, I don’t drink coffee while riding a bike.  Ahh but wait, those caffeine laced gels might count.  Good job I only use those at weekends when I am not on city streets.

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).

Woah there, wasn’t the headline about how cycling causes heart attacks.  Ok I can be a little depressed at times (cycling seems to cure that though) and can get mighty pissed at drivers at times so I can understand the anger bit.  But I have never tried eating a heavy meal while cycling and have yet to have sex while cycling down Oxford Street, so I should be ok there. Hmm store that one away for later

And taking cocaine was shown to raise a person’s risk of having a heart attack 23-fold”

Well that’s fine I don’t and won’t sniff and ride.  Well yes I do but that’s snot not white powders.

But I am doomed Captain Manwaring

…since far more people are exposed to traffic fumes and factory emissions than cocaine, air quality is a far more important population-wide threat.

Ok sell, the bike and buy crack.  A far healthier past time.

Ah the voice of reason at last:

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


Dr Tim Chico, honorary consultant cardiologist at the University of Sheffield, said: ‘The foundations of heart disease are laid down over many years. If someone wants to avoid a heart attack they should focus on not smoking, exercising, eating a healthy diet and maintaining their ideal weight.’

So what was the point of the article?  I guess the author knows but I sure as hell don’t unless it was to say ‘this proves there are lies, damn lines, and statistics so just get out their and cycle’.

So will I stop cycling?  Yes I will.  On the day I suffer a fatal heart and not before.

And I would like to thank the Daily Mail for their article supporting banning traffic from city centres as pollution and stress can kill.  I never thought I would see the day

The Daily Mail article can be found at

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