Elisabeth Manville
Feb 29, 2012

Why cold air increases risk of coronary events

The results of a new study may help better the understanding of the effects of cold air on the heart and how the hearts of healthy individuals can compensate for cold, while those with heart disease are at a higher risk for coronary events. The Pennsylvania State University study monitored the heart and lung functions of two groups of healthy adults, one in their twenties and the other in their sixties to learn how the heart functions in those without disease. The researchers had them perform handgrip exercises and observed that there was a mismatch between the supply and demand for oxygenated blood in their left ventricles, but a healthy heart could continue to function appropriately. People with heart problems may not be able to correct this uneven oxygen distribution, making activities like snow shoveling particularly dangerous. "This study can help us understand why cold air is such a trigger for coronary events," said Lawrence I. Sinoway, a professor at Penn State, who led the study.