When winter rolls around, especially in locations where temperatures get cold, snowy or icy, it’s important to take extra precautions to keep your heart healthy. You can protect your heart, and prevent a heart attack during the winter months.
You probably already know that shoveling snow can increase your risk of a heart attack, but that’s not the only thing that can negatively affect your heart health at this time of year.
Winter Heart Dangers
- Cold temperatures – When the temperature drops, blood vessels near the skin’s surface constrict to prevent your body from losing heat. This causes an elevation in your blood pressure and heart rate. As your body compensates to maintain a normal body temperature, your vital organs continue to work efficiently.
- Winter tasks – Strenuous activities you may perform during the winter place increased stress on your heart. Shoveling, pushing your car out of the snow or even walking briskly against a strong wind or navigating icy streets can increase your heart’s demand for oxygen. Add that to the additional stress already placed on your heart from the cold, and it can be a recipe for disaster.
- Changes to your routine – Even if you’re committed to living a healthy lifestyle, it can be difficult to eat healthy or stick to an exercise routine during the winter months. Dreary days may keep you indoors more, and this can lead to overeating and more sedentary activities.
Unsure About Heart Attacks?
A heart attack is a scary situation. To prevent a heart attack, learn more about the causes and symptoms.
Steps to Prevent A Heart Attack
Knowing what precautions you need to take to prevent a heart attack, as well as the warning signs, are especially important at this time of year. Take these steps to protect your heart this winter:
- Dress warmer when temperatures dip but wear layers to avoid getting overheated. Staying warm is one of the best winter heart-protection strategies.
- Take frequent breaks when performing strenuous activities like shoveling.
- Stay hydrated (dehydration can increase your heart rate).
- Don’t drink alcohol if you’ll be out in the cold.
- Learn how to recognize the signs of a heart attack (pain or discomfort in your chest, jaw, neck, back, arm or shoulder; dizziness or lightheadedness; shortness of breath; nausea or vomiting).
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