Cold Weather Associated With Increased Risk of Ischemic Stroke in AFib Patients

Cold weather may be associated with an increased risk of ischemic stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation (AFib), according to research presented Aug. 30 at ESC Congress 2015 in London.

The study, based on 289,559 new-onset AFib patients from the "National Health Insurance Research Database" in Taiwan from 2000 to 2011, estimated the risk of ischemic stroke for each month and season. Results showed that 34,991 patients suffered from an ischemic stroke during the mean follow up of three years and that stroke risk was higher during the months with a lower average temperature. Compared to summer, risk of ischemic stroke increased by 10 percent in the spring and 19 percent in the winter. Stroke risk did not differ significantly between summer and autumn.

According to Tze-Fan Chao, MD, from Taipei Veterans General Hospital and the National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan, when the average temperature was below 20 degrees Celsius, the risk of ischemic stroke significantly increased compared to days with an average temperature of 30 degrees Celsius. Additionally, a 5 degrees Celsius decrease in daily temperature within 14 days before the stroke occurred was associated with an increased risk of stroke with an odds ratio of 1.128.

"Our study shows a clear association between temperature and risk of ischemic stroke in patients with AFib," said Chao. "Risk may increase in cold weather because of the pro-coagulant status."

Moving forward, he suggests that cold weather may be an underrated health issue that deserves more attention. He notes there might also be an opportunity to predict strokes in AFib patients before they happen and put preventative measures in place such as adequate anticoagulants and reducing cold exposure through protective clothing and heating homes in winter.

Keywords: ESC Congress, Anticoagulants, Atrial Fibrillation, Coagulants, Attention, Cold Temperature, Heating, Hospitals, General, Hospitals, Veterans, Male, National Health Programs, Protective Clothing, Risk, Seasons, Stroke, Taiwan, Temperature

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