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Cold Heart Attacks

August 30, 2010

The risk of a heart attack increases as temperatures go down.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Heart attacks and the weather…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

When it’s cold out, the risk of having a heart attack goes up. This according to epidemiologist Krishnan Bhaskaran of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He and his colleagues looked at the relationship between outdoor temperatures and the number of heart attacks occurring on any given day over a four-year period in England and Wales. For every one degree Celsius drop in temperature, the risk of a heart attack rose by 2%.

KRISHNAN BHASKARAN (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine):
That 2% sounds like quite a small number, but it does translate to quite a substantial number of extra heart attacks.

HIRSHON:
He says when it’s cold out, the heart has to work harder, blood pressure tends to increase, and blood clots more easily, all of which increase heart attack risk. He adds that uncommon activities, like shoveling snow, can also put strain on the heart. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.