The risk of non-fatal heat-related heart attacks may be increased among patients who use anti-platelet medication and beta-blockers, according to a study published in Nature Cardiovascular Research. However, further research is needed to confirm this effect.
It has been established that exposure to both cold and heat can trigger the onset of heart attacks and previous epidemiological studies have shown that the burden of heat-related heart attacks will probably increase with 2 or 3 °C of global warming.
Kai Chen and colleagues analyzed data from 2,494 patients who experienced a heart attack during May to September from 2001 to 2014 in the region of Augsburg, Germany, and compared patients’ clinical information with daily meteorological information and medication intake. Among the reported medications, the authors observed that the risk of non-fatal heat-related heart attacks was higher in patients receiving anti-platelets and beta-blockers (two commonly prescribed cardiovascular medications) compared with patients not using these drugs. The authors also found that this effect was greater among younger patients (25 to 59 years old), who had a lower prevalence of pre-existing coronary heart diseases, than among older patients (60 to 74 years old). The authors note that the nature of the data does not allow them to rule out the possibility that the higher risk is because users of anti-platelets and beta-blockers may be patients who are sicker and thus inherently more vulnerable to heat-related heart attacks owing to the severity of their illness. Further research involving larger registries of patients is needed to answer this question.
Chen and co-authors argue that these findings could help to develop targeted strategies to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease linked to increases in temperature.
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