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Heart attacks more likely to occur in cold weather

21 May 2018 09:04

Heart attacks occur more often in cold weather

Heart attacks occur more often in cold weather

A recent study in Taiwan has revealed that heart attacks occur more frequently in cold weather - with the figure increasing "dramatically" when the temperature drops below 15C (59F).

Researchers say people at high risk of heart attack should be sent smartphone messages, as just one precaution during cold weather, to remind them to be extra vigilant.

They are urging people to watch out for telltale signs, such as chest pains or shortness of breath during cold spells.

The study is being presented at the Asian Pacific Society of Cardiology (APSC) Congress 2018 in Taipei and used data covering almost a million patients.

At risk

People who have previously had a heart attack, older people, smokers, or those with diabetes, high blood pressure, or those who are obese are at the greatest risk of suffering heart attacks, the researchers said.

The team looked at whether patients were more likely to have experienced certain climate factors before their heart attack than the participants who did not have a heart attack.

They found that colder weather or temperature fluctuations and stronger wind separately increased the risk of having a heart attack the following day.

When the lowest temperature of the day was between 15 and 20C (68F) the relative incidence of a heart attack occurring increased by 0.45% with each one degree of temperature drop.

"The risk is predictable"

Dr Po-Jui Wu, a cardiologist who led the study, said: "We found that the number of heart attacks fluctuated with the seasons, with more attacks occurring in winter compared to summer.

"Heart attacks increased dramatically when the temperature dropped below 15C.

"When the temperature drops, people at high risk of a heart attack should be put on alert for symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath.

"Heart attacks can cause people to die suddenly so it is essential to urgently seek medical assistance when symptoms occur."

Professor Ian Graham, prevention spokesman at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), agreed that cold weather significantly increases the risk of suffering a heart attack.

"Given that the risk is predictable, health authorities should allocate more resources for treating heart attack victims during cold weather.

"And people at risk of a heart attack should be more vigilant during cold weather and dial emergency at the first sign of symptoms."

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