Many of us are not accustomed to the physical demands of strenuous outdoor activities and may be unaware of the potential dangers of cold weather. Winter sports enthusiasts who do not take the necessary precautions may fall victim to accidental hypothermia. People with coronary heart disease often experience angina pectoris (chest pain or discomfort) in cold weather. In addition to cold temperatures, high winds, snow, and rain can also cause heat loss. Wind is particularly dangerous as it removes the layer of warm air around the body. Dampness also causes the body to lose heat more quickly than in dry conditions. With winter comes a drop in temperature that can impact your blood flow and add strain to your heart. Read on to find out more about the impact of cold weather on your heart.
Cold weather can cause the blood vessels to constrict, making it harder for the heart to pump blood. It can cause an increase in blood pressure as well, which can put extra strain on the heart. Anyone with an existing heart condition such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, or arrhythmia are more susceptible to cold weather’s effects on the heart. Cold air can cause airway constriction in people with respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema, which can lead to increased stress on the heart. Physical activity in cold weather can be dangerous for some people, as it may cause chest pain, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of heart disease. It’s important to check with your doctor before starting any physical activity in cold weather. People with heart conditions should be mindful of how the weather affects them and take precautions such as wearing warm clothing, staying dry and avoiding prolonged exposure to cold weather. It’s important that you are aware of the signs of a heart attack, such as chest pain or pressure, shortness of breath, and arm or jaw pain, and seek medical attention immediately if these symptoms occur.
Winter can bring with it certain lifestyle choices that can put you at risk for heart disease. The temptation to stay indoors, indulge in comfort foods and consume more alcohol can all contribute to unhealthy changes in weight, cholesterol and blood pressure, which can increase your risk for heart disease and heart attacks. The cold weather may discourage outdoor activities and physical exercise, which is essential for maintaining a healthy heart. Additionally, the holiday season often comes with more social gatherings and events that can lead to overindulging in food and alcohol. It’s important to make mindful choices and maintain a balance during the winter season to ensure a healthy heart.
One way to protect your heart during the winter months is to maintain a warm living environment. Keep the room where you spend most of your time at a temperature of at least 18°C. To stay warm, wear multiple layers of clothing, including socks, jumpers and blankets. Utilising a hot water bottle or electric blanket can help keep you warm at night. To keep the heat in, try budget-friendly options like draft stoppers and insulating window coverings. Additionally, wearing a hat, scarf and gloves can help maintain your core body temperature.
Cold weather can cause blood vessels to constrict, making it harder for the heart to pump blood. It can also increase blood pressure and put extra strain on the heart. Cold weather can also cause the heart to work harder to maintain body temperature, which can increase the risk of a heart attack.
Individuals who have existing heart conditions such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, or arrhythmia are more susceptible to cold weather’s effects on the heart. Cold weather can also increase the risk of blood clots forming in the blood vessels, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.
To protect your heart during the winter months, you can maintain a warm living environment, wear multiple layers of clothing, stay active indoors, and eat warming meals and healthy hot drinks to keep your body energised. If you have angina (chest pain), wearing a scarf around your mouth and nose or a face mask can help limit symptoms in cold weather.
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