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Welcome to the European Society of Cardiology. Our mission: to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in Europe
 

Cold weather produces more heart attacks 

Topics: Cardiovascular Disease Prevention - Risk Assessment and Management
Date: 01 Sep 2013
The study evaluated the independent environmental triggers of AMI in a multifactorial nationwide environmental model. Weekly counts of AMI patients that underwent primary percutaneous coronary intervention (pPCI) during 2006-2009 in 32 Belgian PCI centres were extracted from the national PCI database.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands – Sunday 1 September 2013 :
Cold weather leads to more heart attacks, according to research presented at ESC Congress 2013 today by Professor Marc Claeys from Belgium. The multifactorial study of nearly 16,000 patients found no relationship between heart attacks and air pollution.

Professor Claeys said: “Air pollution and temperature changes are the most frequently reported environmental triggers for acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Epidemiologic studies have focused mainly on one environmental condition, but most environmental triggers are related to each other and may attenuate or reinforce the triggering effect of a single environmental factor.”
He added: “Better knowledge of the impact of environment on AMI will help medical care providers and policy makers to optimise prevention strategies for a target risk population.”

The present study evaluated the independent environmental triggers of AMI in a multifactorial nationwide environmental model. Weekly counts of AMI patients that underwent primary percutaneous coronary intervention (pPCI) during 2006-2009 in 32 Belgian PCI centres were extracted from the national PCI database.

AMI counts were correlated with average weekly meteorological data obtained from daily measurements in 73 meteorological sites, equally distributed in Belgium. The following meteorological measures were investigated: air pollution expressed as particulate matter both less than 10µM (PM10) and less than 2.5µM (PM2.5), black smoke, temperature and relative humidity.

During the study period a total of 15,964 AMI patients (mean age 63 years, 24.8% female) were admitted with a weekly average admission rate of 77 +/- 11 patients. Time series and univariate analysis revealed a significant positive correlation between AMI and air pollution and an inverse correlation between AMI and temperature.

Multivariate analysis showed that only temperature was significantly correlated with AMI, which increased by 7% for each 10°C decrease in minimal temperature (odds ratio [OR]=1.07, 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.04-1.11), and that there was no significant effect of air pollution (OR=1.01, 95%CI=1.00-1.02).

Professor Claeys said: “Additional analysis showed that the triggering effect of low temperature was also present outside the winter period. Apparently, smaller differences in temperature between indoor and outdoor can also precipitate AMI. In addition, below a minimal temperature of 10°C there is no additional effect of temperature decrease on the occurrence of AMIs.” (see figure 1)

He added: “A potential mechanism to explain the increased risk of coronary events associated with decreasing temperature is the stimulation of cold receptors in the skin and therefore the sympathetic nervous system, leading to a rise in catecholamine levels. Moreover, increased platelet aggregation and blood viscosity during cold exposure promotes thrombosis and clot formation.”

Professor Claeys concluded: “In a global environmental model, low temperature is by far the most important environmental trigger for AMI, whereas air pollution has a negligible effect. People at risk of AMI (for example elderly patients with diabetes and hypertension) can minimise their risk by avoiding big changes in temperature. This means wearing suitable clothes when going from the warm indoors to the colder outdoors, even beyond winter time.”


Authors: ESC Press Office
For background information, please contact the ESC Press Office.
For independent comment on site, please contact the ESC Spokesperson coordinator.

Notes to editor

About the European Society of Cardiology
The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) represents more than 80 000 cardiology professionals across Europe and the Mediterranean. Its mission is to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in Europe.

About ESC Congress 2013
The ESC Congress is currently the world’s premier conference on the science, management and prevention of cardiovascular disease.  The spotlight of this year's event is "The Heart Interacting with Systemic Organs".  ESC Congress 2013 takes place from 31 August to 4 September at the RAI centre in Amsterdam, Netherlands. More information on ESC Congress 2013 contact the ESC Press Office.

References

This press release accompanies both a presentation and an ESC press conference at the ESC Congress 2013. Edited by the ESC from material supplied by the investigators themselves, this press release does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Society of Cardiology. The content of the press release has been approved by the presenter.

More information on the ESC Press Conference page: Everyday life