Analysis finds Google searches for cardiovascular disease peak in winter

health informatics research
Dr. Nilay Kumar

Research led by Nilay Kumar, MD (pictured at right), clinical assistant professor, Hospital Medicine, found a strong seasonal pattern to Google search queries related to cardiovascular disease topics.

The team searched Google Trends for popular cardiovascular disease search terms, assessing relative search volumes for a 10-year period in the US and Australia. Search volumes were higher in winter in both regions, and correlated positively with seasonal patterns of cardiovascular disease mortality.

An accompanying editorial was written by Joseph Murphy, MD and R. Scott Wright, MD, both of the Mayo Clinic.

"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," wrote Drs. Murphy and Wright.

Additional collaborators on the study included Neetika Garg, MD, assistant professor (CHS), Nephrology, and colleagues at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, UW-Madison Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics, and the Ochsner Clinical School in New Orleans, Louisiana.