Colder weather means 50% more heart attacks or strokes because your heart is already working harder to keep you warm.
Researchers in the United Kingdom found that with each temperature drop of less than two degrees there were approximately 200 additional heart events than usual during a single day.Colder weather means 50% more heart attacks or strokes! #WinterHeartHealthClick To Tweet
5 Risk Factors for Winter Heart Attacks
- Hypothermia conditions
- Being too warm
- Colds and flus
- Falling behind in prescription medication
You need to know the facts and how you can ensure winter heart health. If you live in a cold climate year-round, have typical seasonal cold, or spend time in a colder environment than usual, it can affect your body’s basic functions.
Higher blood pressure and a greater risk of clots are more common in winter months…but so are specific activities that can push your heart into danger zone.Higher blood pressure and a greater risk of clots are more common in winter months…Click To Tweet
Responsible exercise is always a good thing. Exercising when you have cardiovascular disease (or a high risk of it) can complicate things. From raking a yard full of leaves to shoveling snow to clearing your vehicle of ice in the morning, the colder months bring different forms of physical exertion and hypothermia hazards than the rest of the year.
While there are many people who don’t live in colder climates, chances are you know someone who does. Since heart disease is the #1 killer of both men and women worldwide, you need to safeguard your ticker and pay extra attention to keeping it healthy.
Winter Heart Health Tips
1. Dress for the weather. I cannot stress this enough. Looking “cute” isn’t as important as keeping your body warm and your heart relaxed. Look up the day’s projected temperatures and take a jacket just in case! Always protect your head, feet, and hands since you lose body heat faster in these locations. Cold wind, snow, and lack of proper layers means your body heat can dissipate faster than you might imagine.
2. Increase your intake of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. These two protect your heart cells and lower inflammation. Most heart attack and stroke patients test positive for deficiency in these key nutrients. Consider supplements of both during months of constant overcast skies or if you struggle to get either in sufficient quantities through your eating plan.
3. Know your limits! Older people with heart disease are at higher risk of sudden death caused by a combination of over-exertion and cold. Ask for help or break up your seasonal chores into smaller time blocks. Don’t spend hours outside (no matter your age) shoveling snow without breaks. If you’re unused to exercise or have been diagnosed with a heart condition, work for 15 minutes then break for 15 minutes.
4. Limit alcohol during winter month chores. Alcohol gives your body a false impression of warmth. Inside you feel warm but your actual body heat could be well below safe levels to the point of hypothermia. Save the drink for after the job is done and you can warm up out of the elements! Nicotine in tobacco products and caffeinated beverages also raise your blood pressure so avoid these during physical activity.
5. Pay attention to your body. Some heart events can have little or no warning. Often, neck, back, arm, or chest pain are mistaken as pulled muscles or indigestion. If in doubt, seek help. Perhaps your aches will turn out to be nothing but you’d be shocked at how many deaths could be prevented if people didn’t ignore pain and sought emergency medical care.
Heart health in winter takes more effort. We indulge (happily) during the holidays with more smoking, alcohol, unhealthy fats, refined sugars, and larger portions. There is less exercise and more stress.
Since most of us know we’re going to overeat and drink too much, consider making “deals” with yourself. Give your body a break from alcohol and fatty foods for a couple of days before your company party or family gathering. Give your body another break immediately after it. Drink plenty of water to balance alcohol and make sure you sleep!
If you think (or know) you’re at risk for heart disease, take your pulse before you head out to shovel the driveway. Track your pulse for 30 seconds (I always need a helper to do this because reasons) and multiply it by two. That’s your “normal.”
Do your chore for 30 solid minutes and then break. Take your pulse again then rest for 15 minutes to allow your heart rate to return to normal.
Dr. Randall Zusman, a cardiologist with Harvard, explains, “Cold weather creates a perfect storm of risk factors for cardiovascular problems…a mismatch of supply and demand.” Your heart needs more oxygen-rich blood but it’s working harder than usual already and can’t keep up.
Winter heart health shouldn’t be ignored during the “celebratory” months of the year. Your risk is higher, your body is working harder, and you must not ignore unusual pain.
For more information about keeping your heart healthy and happy year-round…read the free report “Why Your Heart is Modern Medicine’s Deadliest Blind Spot” right now!