NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The summer can be a dangerous time for those with heart issues, especially if they’re taking certain medications. Researchers from the Yale School of Public Health have discovered that people taking beta-blockers or antiplatelet medications like aspirin have a greater risk of suffering a heart attack when it’s hot out.
“Patients taking these two medications have higher risk,” says study first author Kai Chen, an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology (Environmental Health), in a university release. “During heat waves, they should really take precautions.”
Those precautions include using air conditioning or going to a public cooling center.
For the study, researchers analyzed 2,494 cases in which patients experienced a non-fatal heart attack in Augsburg, Germany during the hot-weather months of May through September, between 2001 and 2014. They compared heat exposure on the day of the heart attack versus the same days of the week within the same month.
Results show that people who took antiplatelet medication had a 63-percent higher risk of having a heart attack, while those taking beta-blockers had a 65-percent increase. Researchers say patients taking both beta-blockers and antiplatelet medication saw a staggering 75-percent higher risk of suffering a heart attack.
Conversely, non-users of those heart medications did not see their likelihood of a heart attack rise on hot days.
It’s important to note the study doesn’t prove that taking beta-blockers and antiplatelet medications directly trigger a heart attack on hot days, nor do they make people more vulnerable to suffering a cardiac event. While it’s possible these medications did increase the risk of heart attacks during hot weather, study authors say it’s also feasible that a patient’s underlying heart conditions could explain both the medications and the higher heart attack susceptibility during hot weather.
However, researchers say there is a critical clue that points the finger at these medications. During the study, researchers found younger patients between the ages of 25 to 59 who took beta-blockers and antiplatelet medications were more vulnerable to heat-related heart attacks than older patients, even though older people had more heart disease cases.
Statins may also cause a problem
The study also showed that other heart medications don’t appear to have a connection to heat-related heart attacks — except for statins. Researchers say when younger people took statins, the medication displayed a connection to an over three-fold higher risk of a heart attack on hot days.
“We hypothesize that some of the medications may make it hard to regulate body temperature,” notes Chen, adding he plans the untangle these relationships in future studies.
The study is published in the journal Nature Cardiovascular Research.