Cold days increase the risk of a heart attack

Weather and heart infarcts have been discussed in almost 100 years and there are several theories about the influence of different weather conditions on the risk of getting a cardiac infarct.

The study was headed by Senior Physician David Erlinge, Head of Cardiology at Skåne University Hospital and Professor at Lund University, together with Moman A. Mohammad, a physician at Skåne University Hospital and doctoral candidate at Lund University.

“For almost a century, the possible connection between heart attacks and the weather has been discussed. We realized that we, in Sweden, have a unique opportunity to examine this theory as we have a national quality registry known as “SWEDEHEART”, which contains data about every heart attack in Sweden since 1998, and we also have weather data from the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI). So we combined these data and checked to see whether there was any connection”, says David Erlinge.

Greater risk and cold weather

The results show that there is a clear correlation between the risk of heart attacks and days with colder temperature, lower barometric pressure, stronger winds or fewer hours of sunshine.
“When these conditions are present, the risk of heart attacks increases, with the strongest correlation observed in the case of lower air temperature. The risk of suffering a heart attack is 14 per cent higher at 0°C than at 20°C”, according to David Erlinge.

What importance do these results have for the public?

“Patients with an elevated risk of experiencing a heart attack, such as seniors who have had a previous heart attack, should try to avoid going out in really bad weather, or at least make sure to dress appropriately, so that they keep themselves warm”, David Erlinge continues.

Studying whether holidays and sporting events increase the risk

David Erlinge will now undertake a more detailed study of whether other factors during a calendar year affect the risk of heart attacks.
“In our continued research, we will be looking to discover whether are correlations to various holidays, for example, or to major sporting events, in an effort to determine whether these can affect the risk of heart attacks”, David Erlinge concludes.