It kind of makes sense that winter would be harsher for heart patients—the physical strain of the cold, shovelling all that snow, and battling treacherous traffic is enough to give us all heart palpitations. However, a recent study supports what many refer to as the “Christmas coronary” or the rise of heart attack cases during the winter months.
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The study examined hundreds of thousands of heart attacks documented in the National Registry of Myocardial Infarction, and it revealed that 53 percent more heart attack cases occurred in winter compared to fall, spring, and finally summer (in that order).
The pattern is difficult to ignore, especially since it transcended gender, age, and even geographic location, leading researchers to believe that cold temperatures, which are known to narrow the arteries, increase blood pressure, and place increased stress on the heart, might be linked to the increase in heart attacks.
Dr. Bryan Schwartz, a Clinical Cardiovascular Fellow at the University of New Mexico, upholds that cold weather is really just one cause in a series of several, and he points to other proponents, such as:
- Seasonal affective disorder (or SAD) due to decreased daylight
- Respiratory infections
- Increase risk of influenza
- Decrease in healthy eating and exercise
- And excess decadence during the winter holidays
Dr. Schwartz and Dr. Robert Kloner released challenging findings at a recent American Heart Association conference. The researchers studied the death certificates across the U.S. states and found no link between cardiovascular deaths, climate, and temperature.
Source: New York Times