Hello my friends and welcome to our first Topic Tuesday of November. I hope you and your loved ones have been taking some time to enjoy the beautiful autumn leaves, go on walks, and indulge in a nice pumpkin latte here and there.
As the season changes, depending on where you live, you may be expecting some cooler days and nights coming forth. For patients and families living with aortic disease, making yourself aware of the different effects of cold temperature can have on the heart and body may be helpful to manage expectations and avoid worrying during the winter time.
This week, we share a nice article from the University of Michigan - https://www.michiganmedicine.org/health-lab/winter-and-aortic-dissection-are-you-risk discussing the impact of winter on aortic dissection.
Dr. Marion Hofmann shares that several centers have seen an increased incidence of aortic dissection during the Fall/Winters (November-March) compared to other times of the year. This risk is heightened in patients with pre-existing aortic aneurysms, those with a family history, as well as patients with high blood pressure (hypertension) and older patients (>60 years). One possible reason for this less consistent doctor visits around the holiday time and less compliance with medication refills.
Interestingly, according to an International Registry of Aortic Dissections, this trend exists even in countries without cold winter months. This led many researchers to theorize that another cause for elevated aortic dissections during this time may be from an increased rate of viral and upper respiratory infections during "Flu season."
There is currently some data to suggest that the flu and other viruses could lead to inflammation within the heart chambers and vessels, including the aorta. This could cause negative effects on the stability of the heart and aorta, leading to the dissection to occur.
For this reason, Dr. Hoffman said she recommends all aortic disease patients to embrace and keep healthy habits around the holiday time, such as avoiding tobacco products, keeping up with their medications and routinely going for regular blood pressure checks and doctor appointments.
Patients should also heavily consider getting the annual flu shot as it has been shown to help improve symptoms and rates of serious adverse effects from the flu in patients with heart disease.
Depending on your condition, certain winter-time activities, such as heavy lifting and snow shoveling should also be stopped. Be sure to check out next week's post with Duc for more information on what winter physical activities are recommended versus not recommended in patients with aortic disease!
And that's it for this week! Be sure to check out the full article for more information and join us back next week for another Topic Tuesday! Until next time, my friends, Think Happy, Think Family, and always Think Aorta.