More risk of Heart attack when temperatures fall: Study

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Researchers in Taiwan reported that more heart attacks occur during winter than during summer, and suggest that people at higher risk for heart attack be more aware of symptoms such as the chest pain when the temperature drops. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI |

Colder weather can raise the risk of heart attack, early study suggests.

Scientists in Taiwan have found that heart attack rates can fluctuate seasonally, with more occurring in the winter in comparison to summer. When the temperature fell below the 59 degrees Fahrenheit, heart attacks rate can be increased dramatically, the study authors reported.

“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,” told the study author and cardiologist Dr. Po-Jui Wu.

For the research, the researchers analyzed the health records from more than 40,500 Taiwanese heart attack patients from the year 2008 to 2011.

That data was then stacked up against the two other databases. One contained data about nearly920,000 adults who had never had the heart attack, while the second tracked local weather patterns collected by the Taiwan Central Weather Bureau.

The researchers found that the colder weather, changes in the weather, and strong winds each were tied to the increased heart attack risk the next day.

The study could not prove the cause-and-effect relationship. But, the researchers advised for taking public health measures to alert high-risk patients — perhaps through smartphone messaging — when problematic weather changes are approaching.

“At-risk groups include people who had a previous heart attack, the elderly, or those with risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, and sedentary lifestyles,” told Wu, of Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan.

The findings will be presented this week in Taiwan at the meeting of the Asian Pacific Society of Cardiology.

“Heart attacks can cause people to die suddenly, so it is essential to urgently seek medical assistance when symptoms occur,” Wu included in a news release from the European Society of Cardiology.

Research presented at the meetings is usually considered as the preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

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