Snow shovel? Check. Parka? Check. Heart medication? Wait ... what?
Researchers at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles found that people were significantly more likely to die from a heart-related illness during the winter months. The study found that whether people lived in a hot or cold climate, winter still posed a higher risk for heart attacks and other cardiovascular events of between 25 percent and 30 percent.
Though one might suspect the spike in deaths is because of cold weather, researchers say they found no such connection.
"We confirmed findings of previous studies that found that heart deaths peak in winter. But there was no link to the cold," said study researcher Bryan Schwartz.
Indeed, previous studies have shown links between cold weather and heart issues, yet this study appears to have contradicted that notion.
"We found this to be surprising," said Schwartz at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association. "We thought colder climates with a colder winter might have a higher increase in the wintertime or a prolonged increase in the wintertime, but that's not what we found."
The reasons for the increased rate are not yet known, but could include the risk of catching the flu, which could lead to heart issues in elderly people, said the Toronto Globe and Mail. They also could include the effects of seasonal affective disorder, overeating and shoveling snow.