Heart attacks dramatically more deadly in winter months, study finds

Experts found the number of episodes remain stable throughout the year.

But the risk of dying within a month of a severe heart attack was 40 per cent higher during the coldest months.

Lead researcher Dr Arvin Krishnamurthy, from Leeds General Infirmary, said treatment delays during the busy winter period may explain why they are more lethal.

And victims may also be affected by bugs such as cold and flu, which are more likely to be circulating.

Dr Arvin said: “There is no physical reason why a heart attack, even the most severe, should be more deadly in winter than in summer so we must do further research to find the cause of this difference and remedy it.

“Potential explanations could include longer time to treatment, prolonged hospitalisation and delays to discharge, and increased prevalence of winter-associated infections, which in the sickest patients, could be potentially lethal.”

Overall, the risk of dying within 30 days of a heart was 20 per cent in warmer months and 28 per cent during cold times of the year.

The findings were presented at the British Cardiovascular Society Conference in Manchester.

In the UK, someone goes to hospital with a heart attack every three minutes.

Cardiologists at Leeds General Infirmary looked at data of more than 4,000 patients who received treatment for a heart attack.

Professor Metin Avkiran, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “You obviously can’t choose when you have a major heart attack, but it shouldn’t have such an impact on your chances of surviving.

“It’s vital we carry out more research to find out why there are these differences, as well as continuing to do all we can to stop people having heart attacks in the first place.”

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