No one wants to suffer a heart attack, but unfortunately, they have become commonplace among many populations. Researchers in Sweden have discovered that heart attacks occur far more regularly during cold weather than during warm weather, leading to speculation that cold weather itself may be a trigger for heart attacks.
Over a 16-year period, researchers recorded over 280,000 heart attacks and compiled meteorological data for each one. That works out to around 48 heart attacks per day. Researchers discovered that there were significantly higher numbers of heart attacks when the average daily temperature was below 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) than when the average daily temperature was above 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit).
Higher occurrences of heart attacks were also seen when wind velocities were higher, when sunshine was limited, and when humidity levels were higher. The results also held across various subgroups, including those with high blood pressure, diabetes, previous heart attacks, or who were taking various medications.
The results seemed to indicate that lower temperatures were a trigger for more heart attacks. When temperatures drop, blood vessels constrict, which can raise blood pressure and perhaps cause heart attacks among people with arterial blockage.
However, there could also be additional factors besides just cold temperatures. Colder weather results in a higher level of many illnesses such as the flu and respiratory infections that can stress individuals and lead to greater incidence of heart attacks as well. If you’re not in the greatest health, have had heart attacks in the past, or have a family predisposition to heart attacks, be sure to be extra vigilant when the weather turns cold.