WEDNESDAY, Sept. 5, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Google search query volumes related to cardiovascular disease (CVD) follow a strong seasonal pattern, according to a study published in the September issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
Nilay Kumar, M.D., from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, and colleagues searched Google Trends for popular search terms related to CVD and compared relative search volumes (RSVs) by month and season for the period Jan. 4, 2004, to April 19, 2014, for the United States and Australia. Using an ecological correlation design, the associations between state-level RSVs and CVD burden were examined.
The researchers found that, compared with summer, in winter, RSVs were 15 and 45 percent higher in the United States and Australia, respectively; RSVs were 36 percent higher in February versus August in the United States, while in Australia, RSVs were 75 percent higher in August versus January. Significant seasonal variability in RSVs was identified; winter peaks and summer troughs were seen for both countries. Significant correlations were observed for state-level RSVs and mortality from CVD, heart disease, coronary heart disease, heart failure, and stroke.
"We predict that internet search engines and social media postings will not only act like the proverbial 'canary in the coal mine' in the early detection of disease but also 'sing like a canary' in the dissemination of important public health warnings," write the authors of an accompanying editorial.
One of the authors of the editorial disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.