Cold Weather = More Heart Attacks

Cold Weather = More Heart Attacks

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Here at the Almanac, we are all about the weather. We love predicting weather. It is so important to so many lives on a daily basis, from farmers to trawler workers to builders. But now, doctors need to take note of the weather too.

Cold weather is associated with a higher risk of severe heart attack, according to research presented by Dr Shuangbo Liu, adult cardiologist and resident at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada.

The six-year study found that each 10°C drop in temperature was associated with a 7% increased risk of the most severe form of heart attack, called ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). ST-elevation myocardial infarctions occur usually due to an acute plaque rupture within the coronary arteries and the chance of dying from this type of heart attack is the highest.

“We studied the effects of temperature on the risk of heart attacks in Winnipeg, Canada, one of the coldest large cities in the world,” said Dr Liu. “We demonstrated that there is a clear relationship between daily temperature and the risk of STEMI. This risk can be predicted up to two days before the actual heart attack. Increased public awareness and reallocation of resources may help us to respond to this predictable seasonal risk of heart attacks in the future.”

Winnipeg, a city of approximately 700 000 inhabitants in Manitoba, is in the geographic centre of Canada. It is known for its very cold winters and hot and dry summers. This allows the perfect opportunity to study the effect of temperature and the environment on cardiac events. Data was collected from Environment Canada on daily high, low and average temperature of the day, previous day and two days before each heart attack. Information was also obtained on daily snowfall.

With every drop of 10 degrees Celsius, the risk of STEMI increased by 7%. Snowfall did not show an independent association after adjusting for temperature.

“Other researchers have looked at the effects of climate on total heart attack admissions and cardiac death but we are the first to look specifically at STEMI, which is known to be the most dangerous type of heart attack,” said Dr Liu. “Our study highlights the potential influence of the environment on occurrence of STEMI. Daily temperature can predict STEMI risk one or two days before it happens. These findings create an opportunity for future research studies to examine whether there are treatment strategies that can temper the effects of climate on the risk of heart attacks.”

So because WINTER IS COMING it might be best to order the groceries online, and let some young strapping individual with great heart health to take the heat in a cold snap.

 

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