Some Beta-Blockers, Antiplatelet Medications May Increase Risk Of Heart Attack in Extreme Weather

New research links some beta-blockers and antiplatelet medications with a higher risk of experiencing a heart attack in hot weather.

Despite being used to treat cardiovascular conditions and reduce the risk of a heart attack, beta-blockers and antiplatelet medications have been shown to increase the risk of heart attacks in very hot weather, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Cardiovascular Research.

This was especially apparent for younger adults, who were more likely to have a heart attack under these conditions, according to the study.

“Patients taking these two medications have higher risk,” said Kai Chen, author an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology (Environmental Health) at the Yale School of Public Health, in a press release. “During heat waves, they should really take precautions.”

Air conditioning units, pools, and other cooling options would be useful to people on this medication or those prone to heart attacks. Epidemiologists are still trying to determine which populations and conditions are most vulnerable to extreme weather events.

In previous studies, researchers have found that hot and cold exposure increased the rate of heart attacks. Considering global warming, they predicted a global temperature increase of 2 to 3 degrees Celsius would make heat-related heart-attacks rates go up even more, especially among people with cardiovascular disease.

For this study, investigators looked specifically at the relationship between taking medication prior to heart attacks and hot weather. Using registry data from 2001-2014, researchers looked at 2494 people in Augsburg, Germany who suffered from non-fatal heart attacks during May-September, the hot weather months.

Patients were their own controls in this experiment. The study authors compared the temperature on the day of the week that the heart attack was experienced with the temperature of other control days during that month.

Participants taking these drugs were more likely to suffer a heart attack on the hottest days compared to the control days. Antiplatelet medications increased the risk of a heart attack by 63%, and beta-blockers increased this risk by 65%. Together, these drugs increased the risk of heart attack by 75%.

The weather was less likely to induce a heart attack for those not taking a medication, according to the study.

Looking at younger patients (25-59 years of age) with lower rates of coronary heart disease than older participants (60-74 years of age), researchers concluded that young patients were more likely to suffer from heat-related heart attacks on beta-blockers and antiplatelet medication than older patients. This suggests the medication could induce heat-related heart attacks, according to the study authors.

They added that other than statins, most other heart medications are not linked to heat-related heart attacks, which also suggests these medications induce heart failure.

“We hypothesize that some of the medications may make it hard to regulate body temperature,” Chen said.

The researchers said they plan to learn more about this conflicting relationship in future studies.

Reference

Two heart medications tied to greater heart-attack risk during very hot weather. EurekAlert! Aug 1, 2022. Accessed on Aug 2, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/960506