Colder the Weather The Higher the Risk for Heart Attack

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Scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have completed a study that suggests cold weather means a bigger increase for heart attack.

People aged between 75 and 84 and those with a previous history of heart disease appeared to be more vulnerable to the effects of colder conditions, while those taking aspirin were less susceptible. They examined data on 84,010 hospital admissions for heart attack recorded in the Myocardial Ischaemia National Audit Project (MINAP) during 2003-2006, and daily temperatures from the British Atmospheric Data Centre, focusing on 15 geographical areas in England and Wales.

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What researchers found was that a 1°C drop in average daily temperature was linked to a cumulative 2% increase in risk of heart attack for 28 days. The highest risk was within two weeks of exposure.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr Paola Michelozzi and Manuela De Sario, of the Lazio Region Department of Epidemiology in Rome, wrote: "Heat and cold exposure affect people with cardiovascular diseases and increase the incidence of coronary events with high impact on short term mortality. Moreover, while the effect of cold on myocardial infarction is well documented, the short-term effect of heat is still contradictory but cannot be disregarded.”

The team further wrote in their report that, “Clinicians should be aware that exposure to environmental heat and cold is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and should consider this in risk prevention and management, and efforts should be especially directed towards most vulnerable individuals identified by a multiplicity of risk factors."

The British Heart Foundation suggests the study showed that those at risk of a heart attack during cold weather should take precautions. Simple thing such as wrapping up warm and always wearing a hat to minimize body heat loss through the head.

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