Weather extremes may trigger stroke

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Frigid temperatures, crippling ice and snow and drought—extreme weather has raised concerns from coast to coast this year. Now add stroke to the wintry mix.

In a Feb. 12 presentation at the 2014 American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in San Diego, researchers unveiled results from a study that examined the association between meteorological factors and stroke incidence. Using the 2009-2010 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, they identified 134,510 people who were 18 years old or older who were hospitalized for ischemic stroke and cross-referenced that data with national weather data.  

Based on unadjusted and adjusted analyses, they determined that lower average annual temperatures were associated with stroke hospitalizations and mortality while larger daily temperature changes and higher average dew point were associated with higher stroke hospitalization rates.

Every one degree Fahrenheit increase in average temperature carried a 0.86 percent decrease in the odds of stroke hospitalization and a 1.1 percent drop in the odds of dying of stroke before discharge.

“This study suggests that meteorological factors such as daily fluctuations in temperature and increased humidity may be stressors that increase stroke hospitalizations,” said lead author Judith H. Lichtman, PhD, MPH, of Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Conn., in a release. She suggested that people who may be at risk try to avoid being exposed to these fluctuations.