Can winter and freezing temps cause more strokes?

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Winter conditions can make the occurrence of a stroke more probable.

More than 800,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke every year, with the majority of them caused by a rouge blood clot disrupting blood flow in the brain.

The American Heart Association, during a nationwide conference in front of an audience of physicians specializing in the treatment of strokes, presented the results of a study that concluded strokes are more common during the winter months.

For some, colder weather can be a risk factor in the occurrence of a stroke.

In cold weather, the body’s blood vessels can constrict and become smaller, increasing the vessels’ blood pressure, a major risk factor for a stroke.

Additionally, the cold can cause blood to thicken. This leads to the blood to become stickier, increasing the likelihood of a clot to form.

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when the flow of oxygenated blood in the brain is disrupted. This could occur from a blood clot formed elsewhere within the body travels to the brain (an ischemic stroke, the most common type) or when blood begins to hemorrhage from the brain’s blood vessels.

During a stroke, brain cells start to die with each passing minute, making the attack on the brain a true medical emergency requiring immediate medical intervention.

Stroke risk factors

In addition to high blood pressure, stroke risk factors include:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Smoking
  • Family history
  • Advanced age

Staying active throughout the cold months and getting as much sun as possible (vitamin D) can also help lower the risk of stroke.

Are stroke symptoms noticeable?

McLaren Macomb neurologists endorse “B.E. F.A.S.T.” when it comes to recognizing stroke symptoms—in yourself or those nearby—and taking action.


Sudden loss of balance and/or coordination


Sudden blurred or double vision, or sudden vision trouble


Facial droop on one side of the face


One-sided arm weakness or numbness, or one arm drifting downward when held straight out


Slurred and/or garbled speech, or difficulty repeating simple phrases


Recognize these symptoms in yourself or someone near you? Do not hesitate—dial 911 immediately for prompt medical attention.