from Medical News Today
Heart Attacks and Winter: Examining the Seasonal Trend
13 Dec 2004
According to results gathered by the Second National Registry of Myocardial Infarction (heart attacks), winter was the top season for heart attacks, followed by fall, then spring, then summer. The December issue of the Harvard Men’s Health Watch looks at potential causes for this seasonal trend.
There were 53% more heart attacks in winter than summer. January was the leader with twice as many heart attacks per day than July, the safest month. And winter heart attacks tended to be more serious with a 9% fatality rate. Research suggests that winter heart attacks produce more damage to cardiac muscle than those in any other season.
The Harvard Men’s Health Watch suggests a number of factors that contribute to the increased seasonal risk, among them:
– Cold weather blues
In the cold, blood vessels constrict to help conserve body heat. Narrowed vessels also mean higher blood pressure, which puts additional strain on the heart.
In colder climates, people tend to exercise less when temperatures dip and snow and ice are common. Another weather related problem: snow shoveling. Snow shoveling is heavy exercise that can tax the heart of those who aren’t normally active.