Tue, Jan 29, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Cold heightens risk of heart attacks

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff writer, with CNA

With a spate of cold fronts bringing down temperatures across the nation, a cardiologist from Shin Kong Wu Ho-su Memorial Hospital in Taipei yesterday cautioned the public against the increased risk of life-threatening cardiovascular diseases.

Hung Huei-fong (洪惠風) said the “three hyper group” — defined as people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and high blood sugar — and those who are obese, drink and smoke are at high risk for such ailments.

Hung’s comments came after Taiwanese actor Jung Hsiang (戎祥), who had been known for his oversized figure and excessive drinking, died of a heart attack at the age of 44 at about 4am on Friday.

On the same day, National Taiwan University Hospital pediatrician Hsu Wen-ming (許文明), 49, was admitted to intensive care after suffering a heart attack, allegedly due to his excessive workload.

According to National Health Insurance admission data, the number of Taiwanese suffering heart attacks surged from 39.2 for every 100,000 people in 1996 to a ratio of 79.8 in 2009, posting a nearly two-fold increase in 13 years.

Urging people at high risk for cardiovascular diseases to be especially careful on cold nights, Hung said the sharp dip in temperatures at that time can cause blood pressure to fluctuate and increase the risks of life-threatening conditions, such as strokes and heart attacks.

“If people in that group or their families fail to pick up on their discomfort early on, they may not be able to receive emergency treatment in time,” Hung said, adding that his surgery schedule had been fully booked recently by people who had suffered heart attacks and who required balloon angioplasty or stent placements.

“Because more cold fronts are expected to batter the country in the following days, people should bundle up and keep warm. Those who experience chest tightness, chest pains or unidentified upper abdominal pains should immediately seek medical treatment,” Hung said.

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