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Winter Months are Bad for the Heart, Study Says

Update Date: Nov 08, 2012 10:32 AM EST
Winter
Levels of low-density lipoprotein, known as bad cholesterol, increase during the wintertime, study finds. (Photo : Flickr/55Laney69)

According to a recent study, researchers at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles state that people are more likely to die of heart diseases during winter months.

According to a new study presented today at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2012, researchers have stated that irrespective of whether one lives in a hot-weathered region or cold-weathered region, people are more likely to be affected by heart diseases in winter.

"We confirmed findings of previous studies that found that heart deaths peak in winter. But there was no link to the cold," says researcher Bryan Schwartz, MD.

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However, this finding has come as much of a surprise to researchers, as previous studies had linked cold weather due to low temperatures with heart attacks and other heart diseases.

Instead, this recent study has found that people are 26 to 36 percent more likely to die of heart diseases in the winter than summer, and this had nothing to do with the low temperatures of the winter months.

Schwartz and colleagues at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles analyzed the reason behind this and found interesting results.

Firstly, people are "not as healthy in winter as in the summer," says Schwartz, who is now a cardiology fellow at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. "Their diet is not as good, they don't exercise as much, and they often gain weight."

Flu, respiratory infections and depression are also seen as causes for heart diseases. American Heart Association spokesman Vincent Bufalino, MD, agrees. He is the senior medical director of cardiology at Advocate Health Care in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.

"I'm in the Chicago area, and come winter, we have to prod our patients to go to the gym, eat right, and keep it up," he says.

"We also have to watch out for depression," Bufalino says.

One study found that people who suffer from depression and who also have heart disease are almost five times as likely to die as compared to people who are mentally and physically healthy.

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