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Cold weather, high altitudes contribute to heart problems

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

Individuals may benefit from cholesterol testing before taking off for their next winter ski trip, as a new study has found that vigorous activity at high altitudes can increase the risk of heart problems, underscoring the importance of preparing for such trips.

Researchers from the Medical University of Innsbruck examined the medical records of 1,500 patients who had been admitted to hospitals in the area of the Tyrolean Alps, a popular destination for winter sports. They found that 19 percent of the individuals who were admitted for heart conditions had no history of heart disease, and that 50 percent were physically less active before their trip.

"Every year, millions of tourists visit the Tyrolean Alps to participate in a variety of winter sports, each of which carries a certain risk of accident and injury," said Bernhard Metzler, who led the study. "The fact that most of the infarcts happened in the very early phase of the vacation hints at a causal relationship."

He added that individuals should prepare themselves before heading off on such a trip to ensure that their heart is capable of handling the exertion. This may include a cholesterol test.

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