Heart Problems in Winter Season: Everyone knows winter is the flu and cold season, but most people don’t know that it is also the prime season for heart attacks. According to estimates, there is a greater than one-fifth rise in the risk of cardiac arrest during the winter months. In the United States, the chance of suffering a heart attack in the winter is double that in the summer. Furthermore, a winter heart attack has a higher chance of being fatal than a summer one. It’s critical to understand how the cold might impact your heart, particularly if you suffer from cardiovascular disease. Some people should refrain from rapid exertion when they are outside in cold weather, such as moving a large shovel full of snow. For certain persons, the stress of trudging through thick, wet snow or snowdrifts might be painful.
A Guide to Seasonal Challenges and Precautions- Wintertime Risks
The following are some explanations for why heart attacks occur more frequently in the winter than in other seasons, along with some advice on how to avoid them:
- Cold Weather: The body’s natural reaction to being in the cold is to constrict blood vessels. Cutting the amount of blood flow to the skin results in less heat loss from the body. However, for those who already have plaque-filled arteries, exposure to cold raises the risk that the artery would narrow and become blocked, which could result in a heart attack. The narrowing also increases blood pressure, which can strain a diseased heart. Thus, stay warm during winter and maintain a healthy blood flow.
- Snow Shoveling: Unbelievably, research reveals that the first few days following a significant snowstorm, when shoveling occurs, see a sharp increase in the incidence of heart attacks. Shoveling snow is a very demanding task that elevates blood pressure and puts additional strain on the heart. Couple that with the cold temperatures and heart attack risk soars.
- New Year’s Resolution: In the winter, anyone can strain their heart, not just shovelers. Millions of individuals pledge to get in shape every January 1st by joining gyms or beginning workout regimens, but many of them risk overexerting themselves too quickly. If you have a heart condition or risk factors for heart disease like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, talk to Dr. Ravinder Singh Rao about what may be appropriate for you.
- Holiday Feasting: During the winter and holiday seasons, people typically eat more, drink more, and put on weight—all of which are dangerous and difficult for someone with heart disease to manage. Not everything is in moderation, keep an eye on your diet and refrain from alcohol or fatty food binges.
- Stressful Season: The winter season for many people is a very stressful time, causing loneliness, depression, and anxiety which are also linked to heart attacks.
- Less Daylight: It is a known truth that fewer hours of sunlight during the winter worsens mood disorders, raises the risk of depression, and heart the heart. Less sunlight also reduces the production of serotonin and melatonin, two neurotransmitters that improve mood. Studies have looked at heart-attack patients and found that they have lower levels of Vitamin D than healthy people. Everyone over 50 should take a daily vitamin containing at least 400 IU (international units) of vitamin D to increase their absorption throughout the gloomy winter months. Those over age 70 need at least 600 IU.
- Flu: An additional factor contributing to the winter spike in heart attacks is the flu. Flu infections can raise blood pressure, activate white blood cells, and alter blood levels of fibrinogen and C-reactive protein—all of which are detrimental to the heart. Get an annual flu shot. It can cut your heart attack risk to half.
Tips to Protect Yourself in Winter Season
The most important thing is to make an effort to keep your body warm. Avoid exposing your body to cold temperatures. This implies that whether you’re sitting inside your home or out and about, you need to have enough clothing to keep you warm.
Heart patients are especially advised not to roam in rough, cold and windy weather. Stay inside if you have experienced any heart-related issues recently. However, avoid going from a chilly to a warm temperature or the other way around.
A lot of individuals simply put on their room heaters and leave the room for somewhere desolate and chill. Those who are prone to heart attacks may find this dangerous, and their doctor will encourage them to take all essential precautions to guarantee appropriate heart care. Take advice from Dr. Ravinder Singh Rao especially keeping the winter season in mind. Whether you’re impacted by all or just one of these factors, physical activity, temperature and emotional stress can contribute to a higher risk of a heart attack during the winter.
- Dress for the weather: Wear layers, especially gloves, hats and heavy socks.
- Come inside often: If you’re going to be outside in the cold, give yourself some time to warm up.
- Avoid excess alcohol: Alcohol can make you feel warmer than you are, which makes it especially risky to use outside in the winter.
- Do not shovel for long periods: Ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to shovel at all.
- Wash your hands frequently: Respiratory infections can increase the risk of heart attack.
- Get help: Don’t wait to seek assistance if you’re experiencing new heart-related symptoms, even on a vacation.
Maintaining heart health throughout the year will help you be in the best possible shape come wintertime. These tips are always in season:
- Be sure to exercise regularly.
- Stick to a heart-healthy diet.
- Be aware of your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels and collaborate with your doctor to maintain them within normal limits.
- Take steps to manage stress.
- Pay attention to your body, and visit your doctor if something feels off.
How Does Cold Weather Affect the Heart?
Many people are unaware of the possible risks associated with being outside during the winter since they are not accustomed to the physical strain of strenuous outdoor activities. Winter sports enthusiasts who don’t take certain precautions can suffer accidental hypothermia. When the body temperature drops below 35 degrees Celsius, or roughly 95 degrees Fahrenheit, it is referred to as hypothermia. It happens when your body isn’t able to generate enough energy to maintain a warm enough interior temperature. You could die from it. Lack of coordination, mental disorientation, sluggish reflexes, shaking, and fatigue are some of the symptoms.
Due to potential communication impairments or decreased mobility, children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable. In addition to having less subcutaneous fat and a weakened sense of body temperature, elderly persons are more susceptible to hypothermia and may not even be aware that they are at risk. People with coronary heart disease often suffer Angina Pectoris (chest pain or discomfort) when they’re in cold weather.
In addition to low temperatures, body heat can also be lost due to strong winds, snow, and rain. As wind removes the layer of hot air surrounding your body, it can be quite harmful. The cooling impact at 30 degrees Fahrenheit at a wind speed of 30 miles per hour is equivalent to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Similarly, at the same temperature, the body loses heat more quickly in dampness than it does in dry conditions.
Wear layers of clothes to stay warm. As a result, air is trapped in between the layers, creating a barrier. Incorporate a head scarf or hat as well. You could lose heat through your head. And frostbite is particularly common in the ears. Since your hands and feet lose heat quickly, keep them warm as well.
5 Cold Weather Precautions for Heart Disease
Everyone needs to take precautions when they are in a cold environment. But if you have a Cardiac condition, you should take extra care. To stay healthy in the chilly months, remember these five suggestions:
- Limit your cold exposure: Reduce the amount of time you spend outside in the winter. If you go outside, wear multiple layers of warm clothing. Put on warm socks and shoes, and cover your hands and head.
- Don’t exert yourself too much: Shovelling snow can cause cardiac arrest for someone with heart problems, as any paramedic knows. It can lead to Heart attacks, Angina, heart failure, and sudden death.
- Don’t let yourself become overheated: Overheating can result from wearing warm clothing and then exercising. If you have heart disease, overheating might cause your blood vessels to suddenly dilate or widen, which can result in hypotension or low blood pressure.
- Get a flu shot: Winter also increases the risk of contracting the flu because of low humidity brought on by indoor heating and freezing temperatures. Anyone suffering from a heart condition could be at risk from the flu.
- Don’t drink alcohol: Don’t drink alcohol right before heading outside. It causes the skin’s blood vessels to enlarge, which makes you feel warmer while removing heat from your essential organs.