Mackay DF, Clemens TL, Hastie CE, Cherrie MPC, Dibben C, Pell JP.

Journal of the American Heart Association. 2019 Dec 3;8(23):e012551.


Background Myocardial infarction exhibits seasonal patterning, with higher amplitude at increased latitude. Epidemiological evidence suggests that sunlight is protective against cardiovascular disease, independent of ambient temperature, but ultraviolet B-mediated vitamin D production has been discounted as causal. We aimed to determine whether ultraviolet A is associated with the seasonal patterning of myocardial infarction.

Methods and Results Routine hospitalization data were used to determine monthly incidence of myocardial infarction in Scotland between 2000 and 2011. Small-area-level aggregated data were obtained on ambient temperature from the Meteorological Office and ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B irradiance from NASA satellites. Autoregressive distributed lag models were run for ultraviolet A and myocardial infarction, including adjustment for ambient temperature and ultraviolet B. Monthly incidence of myocardial infarction displayed winter peaks and summer troughs superimposed on the underlying trend, with a mean amplitude of 0.31 (95% CI: 0.21, 0.41) myocardial infarctions per 100 000 population per month. Ultraviolet A exposure was inversely associated with myocardial infarction independent of ambient temperature (coefficient, -0.05; 95% CI, -0.09, -0.01; P=0.015) and ultraviolet B UVB (coefficient, -0.05; 95% CI, -0.09, -0.02; P=0.004).

Conclusions Further research is required to explore whether an ultraviolet-mediated mechanism different to vitamin D, such as nitric oxide-mediated vasodilatation, may play a causal role in the seasonal and geographical patterning of myocardial infarction.