Heart disease risk is highest in the winter
Since cardiovascular deaths tend to rise in the winter months, researchers from Switzerland decided to conduct a large-scale study to determine whether the risk of heart disease has a seasonal pattern.
The study was conducted using cross-sectional data from 10 population-based studies from over seven countries and included 107,090 participants between the ages of 35 and 80. Researchers measured for blood pressure, lipids, glucose levels, BMI, and waist circumference. The measurements were compared according to season and were adjusted for age, gender and whether a participant smoked. Interestingly, the findings of the analysis revealed that many heart disease risk factors, such as blood pressure, total cholesterol and waist circumference, were higher in January and February but lower in July and August, compared with the annual average. There was no variation in glucose levels or BMI.
Dr. Pedro Marques-Vidal of the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, noted that although the variations in blood pressure and waist circumference were small on an individual level, they’re important when looking at an entire population because the distribution is shifted to higher values, increasing cardiovascular risk. He also suggested the rise in cholesterol may be attributed to changes in eating habits during the winter.