Cold weather raises the likelihood of people having heart attacks, according to scientists in London.
A study published in the online version of the British Medical Journal claims that with each 1C temperature fall, the number of people who have a heart attack in the UK increases by 200.
People who have a history of heart disease, as well as those aged 75-84, are apparently more prone to the attacks in colder weather. People who regularly take aspirin seemed less susceptible, the team from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said.
Researchers looked at data from 84,010 hospital admissions for people having heart attacks in 2003-06 across Wales and England. Factors such as pollution, rates of flu infection, seasonal patterns and trends were taken into account when compiling the findings.
They calculated that when average daily temperature fell by 1C, the risk of heart attacks increased cumulatively by 2% over a period of 28 days. They said that even the smallest increase in heart attack risk meant “substantial absolute numbers” of additional attacks.
An estimated 146,000 heart attacks take place around the UK each year, which translates into an equivalent 29-day average of 11,600 attacks.
British Heart Foundation cardiac nurse Ellen Mason said: “Although the increased risk is small, if there is a nationwide drop in average temperature it could equate to a significant number of heart attacks each day. This timely piece of research reminds us that older people and anyone with heart disease should keep warm in their homes after the summer draws to a close.”