(HealthDay) – Brisk fall winds and cold winter temperatures can make you more prone to heart problems, a new study suggests.
Researchers found "an increase in heart attack at low temperature, high wind, low sunshine duration, and low air pressure," said lead author Dr. David Erlinge, Head of Cardiology at Lund University in Sweden.
News is not worrisome.
The risk of a heart attack dropped by about 3 percent for each increase in minimum air temperature by 45 degrees Fahrenheit (F)
"It is important to note the overall effect here is quite modest," Dr. Usman Baber, assistant professor of cardiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
The study included more than 274,000 Swedes who had a heart attack between 1
The air temperature had the most profound effect on the risk of heart attack, with a higher risk when the temperature dropped below 32 ° F. But even short sunny days, stormy winds and low air pressure were associated with an increased risk.
The observed increase in heart attack risk may be due to the effects of the weather on the circulatory system, explained Erlinge.
"We know that cold and wind cause the body to contract the blood vessels of the skin to maintain temperature and energy," said Erlinge. "This causes the heart to pump against a higher resistance, which increases the burden on the heart and can trigger a heart attack."
However, the study can not prove a cause and effect relationship, and Baber has noted this other factors may also play a role.
"I suspect that the basis for this observed association will be more complex," said Baber. "Physiology may play a role, but other factors such as patient behavior that varies with the weather could play a role."
"When the weather changes, people can behave differently," Baber continued. Stress may play an important role in heart attack risks, and people may not take medication as often. "
Reduced physical activity, dietary changes, and depression are other behavioral factors that could influence seasonal heart attack risk, researchers said.
Even in this weather, people may be more susceptible to respiratory infections and flu, and these diseases are known risk factors for a heart attack. For example, it has been shown that a respiratory infection can increase the risk of a heart attack sixfold, the researchers noted.
If you are worried about your heart health, take the time to wear a sweater or "If you are at high risk, you can avoid going out in very cold, windy weather," Erlinge added.
The study was published on October 24 in the journal JAMA Cardiology .
As temperatures drop, the risk of heart attack may increase
David Erlinge, M.D., Ph.D., Cardiology Director, Lund University, Lund, Sweden; Usman Baber, MD, Assistant Professor, Cardiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City; Oct. 24, 2018, JAMA Cardiology
The American Heart Association has more on cold weather and heart disease.