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Cold vs Heat as the Primary Cause of Acute Myocardial Infarction

Paper Reviewed
Claeys, M.J., Rajagopalan, S., Nawrot, T.S. and Brook, R.D. 2017. Climate and environmental triggers of acute myocardial infarction. European Heart Journal 38: 955-960.

In introducing their study of this important subject, Claeys et al. (2017) write that "acute myocardial infarctions (AMIs) are the leading cause of mortality worldwide and are usually precipitated by coronary thrombosis, which is induced by a ruptured or eroded atherosclerotic plaque that leads to a sudden and critical reduction in blood flow," citing the prior pertinent studies of Davies and Thomas (1985), Nichols et al. (2013) and a 2014 report of the American Heart Association that was produced by a team of 44 researchers. And what did these studies suggest?

Worldwide, as Claeys et al. further note in this regard, "the majority of the temperature-related mortality has been shown to be attributable much more to cold, when compared with extreme hot weather," citing the work of Gasparrini et al. (2015) and reporting that "for each 10°C decrease in temperature, there was a 9% increase in the risk of AMI." And this being the case, it stands to reason that a little global warming may well be a blessing in disguise.

Davies, M.J. and Thomas, A.C. 1985. Plaque fissuring - the cause of acute myocardial infarction, sudden ischaemic death, and crescendo angina. Br Heart Journal 53: 363-373.

Gasparrini, A., Guo, Y., Hashizume, M., Lavigne, E., Zanobetti, A., Schwartz, J., Tobias, A., Tong, S., Rocklow, J., Forsberg, B., Leone, M., De S.M., Bell, M.L., Guo, Y.L., Wu, C.F., Kan, H., Yi, S.M., de Sousa Zanoti, Stagliorio Coelho, M., Saldiva, P.H., Honda, Y., Kim, H. and Armstrong, B. 2015. Mortality risk attributable to high and low ambient temperature: a multi-country observational study. Lancet 386: 369-375.

Nichols, M., Townsend, N., Scarborough, P. and Rayner, M. 2013. Cardiovascular disease in Europe: epidemiological update. European Heart Journal 34: 3028-3034.

Posted 4 August 2017