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Extreme heat, cold may provoke fatal heart attacks

New Delhi, Thu, 20 Sep 2012 NI Wire

Extremes temperatures-heat or cold spells-could be the reason of premature deaths from heart attacks, says s study done in Australia.

The conclusions of this study are relevant as the body responds to temperate extremes, the growing obesity and the Earth's climate changes, Cunrui Huang, lead author of the study as doctoral scholar at the School of Public Health, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Brisbane has been quoted as saying.

Exposure to extreme temperatures also affects and brings changes in blood pressure, blood thickness, cholesterol and heart rate, says a previous research, the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes reports.

It is the first study in which researchers studied the link between daily average temperature and "years of life lost" due to cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Years of life lost measures premature death by estimating years of life lost according to average life expectancy, says a QUT statement.

"With increasing rates of obesity and related conditions, including diabetes, more people will be vulnerable to extreme temperatures and that could increase the future disease burden of extreme temperatures," Huang has been quoted saying.

As a part of this research, data on daily temperatures in Brisbane, Australia, between 1996 and 2004 was collected and compared with documented cardiovascular-related deaths for the same period.

The summers in Brisbane are hot and humid and winter are dry and mild.

The average daily mean temperature was 68.9 degrees Fahrenheit (20.5 degrees Celsius), with the coldest one percent of days (11.7 degree Celsius) called as cold spells and the hottest one percent (29.2 degree Celsius) heat waves.

For every million people, 72 years of life were lost per day due to CVD, researchers observed. Risk of premature CVD death increased more when extreme heat was sustained for two or more days, says researchers

"This might be because people become exhausted due to the sustained strain on their cardiovascular systems without relief, or health systems become overstretched and ambulances take longer to reach emergency cases," Adrian G. Barnett, study co-author and associate professor of biostatistics at QUT has been quoted as saying.

"We suspect that people take better protective actions during prolonged cold weather, which might be why we did not find as great a risk of CVD during cold spells."

Barnett said that spending some time daily in a temperate environment can help reduce heat- and cold-related illnesses and deaths.

--with inputs from IANS

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