Heart Attacks More Deadly During Colder Months

In Individual, Industry News by Matthew Tagg

You are more likely to die from a heart attack in the winter than in the summer, a study of thousands of patients has found.

For the study, cardiologists at Leeds General Infirmary compared information from 4,056 people who received treatment at the hospital for a heart attack over four years. Specifically, they looked at the 30-day mortality rate for patients suffering from the most severe heart attacks and discovered that the risk of dying in the coldest six months of the year was almost 50% higher than in the six warmest months (28% vs. 20%).

The number of heart attacks experienced in both periods was roughly the same, suggesting people are not more likely to suffer from a heart attack at a particular time during the year.

Presenting his team’s findings at the British Cardiovascular Society Conference in Manchester, Dr. Arvin Krishnamurthy, who led the research, said the next step was to find out if the trend is the same nationwide.

Possible reasons given for the higher mortality rate during colder months are that people’s bodies have to work harder to keep warm, which causes increased blood pressure. There’s also the fact that blood clots form more easily in cold weather and people are more susceptible to other illnesses like flu during the winter.

Moreover, the NHS often finds itself under increasing pressure during the winter, which could also be a factor as heart attack patients often need a range of services to make a good recovery.

Professor Metin Avkiran, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), 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”.

Heart Attack Patients Experiencing Longer Waits Too

The conference also heard how a separate study revealed that some heart attack patients are spending an average of 25 minutes longer to arrive at a hospital than in 2011.

Researchers at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust analysed 1,347 heart attack cases going back six years from 2017 and found the average time from an emergency call being made to the patient arriving at a hospital has increased from 53 minutes to 78 minutes.

This is of particular concern for patients who suffer an acute ST-elevated myocardial infarction (STEMI) – the most serious type of heart attack – as receiving treatment early is essential for minimising the damage caused.

Commenting on the findings of the research, the British Heart Foundation said the trend was one that’s likely to be reflected nationwide.

Heart attacks occur when the blood supply to a person’s heart is stopped, usually due to a blockage. Without enough blood, the heart may become seriously damaged and the condition can be life-threatening.

According to the BHF, someone goes to a hospital with a heart attack every 3 minutes in the UK and only seven in 10 people survive.

Could the fact the NHS and ambulance services are placed under increasing pressure during the winter be a reason why heart attacks are more deadly during the colder months?

I have over 18 years experience in the Medical Insurance Industry, much of that spent working for Aviva Health in the Distribution team. I joined Premier Choice in 2015 and in that time I have been helping clients to develop the best possible approach to protecting their health. My understanding of how insurers work puts me in a strong position to negotiate the best solutions on behalf of our clients.