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Arctic Med Res. 1995;54 Suppl 2:16-8.

Cardiovascular mortality in winter.

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Department of Physiology, Queen Mary and Westfield College, London, England.


Ischaemic heart disease is the biggest single cause of excess mortality in winter, accounting for approximately half of all the excess deaths. Most of these deaths take place hours or a day or two after exposure to cold suggesting that some result from thrombosis starting during or shortly after cold exposure, although some can result from immediate reflex effects of cold, and some can occur in association with respiratory deaths which are delayed many days after cold weather. Changes in blood composition observed in the cold that may explain the rapid thrombotic deaths include increased red cell count, plasma cholesterol, and plasma fibrinogen, which are all thrombogenic. The protective protein C does not increase significantly. British data suggests that cold housing particularly affects respiratory mortality in winter, and outdoor cold exposures mortality from arterial thrombosis. A Europe-wide survey is now being run as part of the EC- funded project "Eurowinter" to assess such factors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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