Hitting prime heart attack season

Large study finds cold weather is an important trigger for acute MI

Heart attacks are more common in winter, with a large study of nearly one million people finding that cold weather is an important environmental trigger for acute myocardial infarction.

heart attack

Presenting their paper in Taipei this week, the Taiwanese authors say they found rates of MI fluctuate with the seasons, increasing dramatically when the temperature drops below 15 degrees Celsius.

Given this risk is predictable, health authorities should allocate more resources for treating MI during cold weather, they say.

At-risk groups are the usual suspects, including those with previous MI, the elderly or those with risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension, smoking and sedentary lifestyles.

The study included 40,524 patients with a history of MI and 919,203 adults without.

The researchers found that when the lowest temperature of the day was between 15 and 20 degrees Celsuis, the relative incidence of acute MI increased by 0.45% with each one degree of temperature drop.

When the lowest temperature of the day was below 15 degrees, one degree of temperature drop was associated with a 1.6% of increase in the relative incidence of acute MI.

Dr Po-Jui Wu, study author and cardiologist, suggests health systems send smartphone messages to high-risk patients when adverse weather conditions are predicted, to warn them to be extra vigilant.

Health systems should also be prepared to cope with more heart attack patients during cold weather.

The research was presented at the Asian Pacific Society of Cardiology (APSC) Congress 2018