Heart-related deaths increase in winter regardless of climate

   No matter what climate you live in, you’re more likely to die of heart-related issues in the winter, according to researchers at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles. 

   They analyzed 2005-2008 death certificate data from seven U.S. locations with different climates: Los Angeles, Texas, Arizona, Georgia, Washington, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. In all areas, total and “circulatory” deaths rose an average 26% to 36% from the summer low to the winter peak over four years. Circulatory deaths include fatal heart attack, heart failure, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. Death rates at all sites clustered closely together and no one site was statistically different from any other site. The researchers used statistical techniques to account for the normal year-to-year temperature differences over the four years.

    “This was surprising because climate was thought to be the primary determinant of seasonal variation in death rates,” said Bryan Schwartz, MD, lead author of the study.