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Scientists told how summer heart attacks differ from winter ones
The authors of the new study studied how atherosclerosis flows in many people. They believe that simple preventive measures can reduce the number of "summer" and "winter" heart attacks.
Photo: CC0 Public Domain
Statistics show that myocardial infarction is more common in winter. In a new study, scientists tried to figure out what this seasonality depends on. Scientific work published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Scientists analyzed data from 1113 people who had acute coronary syndrome - myocardial infarction or an attack of unstable angina pectoris. Angina pectoris and heart attack occur when the amount of blood flowing to the heart becomes insufficient for the organ to function normally. This usually occurs as a result of atherosclerotic damage to the coronary arteries (they supply the heart with blood).
The authors identified three groups among the study participants, depending on the state of atherosclerotic plaques in the coronary arteries: plaque rupture, plaque erosion, or its calcification. Any of the three scenarios can lead to a heart attack. In a new study, scientists have described differences between the two that were not previously known.
“We focused on these three mechanisms to see if any of them dominated in a particular season. As we expected, there was a difference,”said Dr. Ik-Kyung Jang, interventional cardiologist, director of the Cardiology Laboratory of Integrated Physiology and Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital, lead author research.
The researchers found that plaque rupture occurred most often in winter and less often in summer. This usually happened to people who had higher blood pressure in winter. In "cores" with calcification or erosion of atherosclerotic plaques, the pressure increased significantly less frequently.
The authors of the study write that rupture of atherosclerotic plaque in winter may be explained by the fact that cold causes vasoconstriction. Against this background, high blood pressure can cause rupture. In addition, respiratory infections, the incidence of which increases in winter, may play a role: they contribute to increased inflammation.
Erosion of the atherosclerotic plaque turned out to be a "summer option". Perhaps this is due to the fact that people lose a lot of water in hot weather. As a result, the blood becomes thicker, this negatively affects the inner lining of the vessels.
Dr. Robert Kloner, scientific director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at Huntington Medical Research Institutes, has previously stated with colleagues that heart attacks are more common in winter.
Cloner points out that lifestyle factors such as dietary changes, less mobility, and indoor smoking may also be the cause of more frequent heart attacks during the cold season.
Jang, the author of the new study, is confident that doctors should tell patients at high risk of heart attack (the elderly, obese, diabetic, high blood pressure and high cholesterol) that they are more likely to have a cardiovascular accident in winter.
“If people make the effort to stay warm in winter and drink enough in summer, we may be less likely to experience acute coronary syndrome,” Jang said.