More fatal heart attacks in winter

Cardiovascular deaths increase in winter

In winter, the risk of a fatal heart attack is significantly higher than in the rest of the year, regardless of the actual climate. This was reported by US researchers led by Bryan Schwartz from the Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles at the annual meeting of the "American Heart Association".

As part of a comprehensive study, the scientists evaluated the death certificates with data from seven US locations in different climatic zones (Los Angeles County, California, Texas; Arizona; Georgia; Washington; Pennsylvania and Massachusetts). Schwartz and colleagues found that the number of cardiovascular-associated deaths generally increased in winter, both in the warm southern states and in the cold north. "This was surprising because the climate was previously the primary determinant of seasonal fluctuations in death rates," study director Bryan Schwartz said.

Winter-related circulatory deaths rise regardless of climate According to US researchers, the number of circulatory deaths in all climates rose an average of 26 percent to 36 percent during the winter months compared to summer. Deaths from a heart attack, heart failure, cardiovascular diseases and strokes were taken into account. The "seasonal patterns of cardiac deaths were very similar across the seven different climate patterns," write Schwartz and colleagues. While the increased circulatory deaths in winter have mostly been attributed to the climate, new explanations are now required in view of the results of the US scientists. While winter temperatures are still believed to favor vasoconstriction and high blood pressure, other factors obviously have a much greater impact, the US scientists report.

People live more unhealthier in winter "People generally don't live as healthy in winter as they do in summer," which may also explain the increased cardiovascular deaths in the winter months, says study director Bryan Schwartz. Lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet are more common in winter and a potential cause of cardiac deaths. However, cold is still considered an additional stress factor in existing heart diseases (e.g. coronary heart disease). In cold weather, sufferers increasingly suffer from chest pain, heart pain and an uncomfortable stinging in the chest. The pressure and tightness of angina pectoris can also increase in the cold. In the worst case, a heart attack threatens.

Cardiovascular diseases most common cause of death In general, the risk of fatal cardiovascular diseases should not be underestimated - regardless of the season. According to the Federal Ministry of Research, almost half of the annual deaths in this country are also due to diseases of the cardiovascular system. Cardiac-related deaths are therefore the leading cause of death in Germany. German physicians see a connection between the cold in winter and an increased risk of death for cardiovascular patients. Wolfgang Franz from the Munich University Hospital explained to the news agency "dpa" in view of the current results of the study that "it had also been found that cold is a major stress factor for cardiovascular patients."

Health risk from physical exertion in winter Physical exertion during the cold winter months carries a risk that should not be underestimated. “If you shovel snow outside in winter, you specifically raise your blood pressure and the low temperatures also lead to vasoconstriction. The heart attack is pre-programmed, ”explained the Munich cardiologist. For their part, the American scientists at the American Heart Association's annual meeting advised that special care should be taken in the winter to maintain healthy behavior and nutrition in order to minimize the risk of a fatal cardiac event. (fp)

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