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Cold Air May Raise Heart-Attack Risk During Exercise

March 7, 2012
By


FRIDAY, March 2 (HealthDay News) — Breathing cold air during
certain physical activities, such as shoveling snow, increases the body’s
demand for oxygen, which may put people with heart disease at greater risk
for cardiac arrest or death, a new study finds.

“This study can help us understand why cold air is such a trigger for
coronary events,” Lawrence Sinoway, director of the Heart and Vascular
Institute at the Pennsylvania State College of Medicine, said in a
university news release. “If you are doing some type of isometric work and
you’re breathing cold air, your heart is doing more work — it’s consuming
more oxygen.”

The researchers used a hand-grip test (which involves participants
squeezing a handgrip, a move known to increase blood pressure) to study
the heart and lung function of healthy adults in their 20s and 60s while
exposed to cold and normal air temperatures. The researchers found a
discrepancy in supply and demand in the participants’ left ventricle —
the part of the heart that receives oxygenated blood — when cold air was
introduced during handgrip exercise. They noted that since the
participants’ hearts were healthy, they were able to compensate for this
change and continue working properly.

People with heart disease, however, may not be able to keep up with the
increased demand for oxygen. The findings, recently published in the
Journal of Applied Physiology and The American Journal of
Physiology, Heart and Circulatory Physiology
, could explain why fatal
heart attacks peak during the winter.

Matthew Muller, postdoctoral fellow at Penn State’s Heart and Vascular
Institute, said the results were in line with what they expected. “We
thought that oxygen demand in the heart would be higher with cold-air
breathing, and we also thought that oxygen supply would be a little bit
impaired,” he said in the news release. “And that’s generally what we
found.”

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides more
information on how the human heart works.

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/cold-air-may-raise-heart-attack-risk-during-220405270.html

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