Winter may be the cozy season of white snow, hot chocolate, and warm blankets, but for some people, winter can be dangerous. That’s because your risk of having a heart attack increases as the temperatures drop.
Year-round, heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. Understanding why cold weather puts you at risk of developing heart problems can help you stay safe this winter and protect your heart for years to come.
One way or another, frigid temperatures can cause physical strain on everyone’s body. Lower temperatures cause your blood vessels to narrow, which increases your blood pressure. Since blood forces itself through a smaller pathway, your heart has to work harder to push blood throughout your body. This leads to higher blood pressure and other issues with your heart and circulatory system.
High blood pressure is a “silent” disease that supports the formation of blood clots. Blood clots are serious—they can halt blood flow to the heart or brain, causing a heart attack or even a stroke. High blood pressure can also cause:
Winter is also cold and flu season; studies show that these infections can increase your risk of a heart attack by changing your heart rhythm and blood volume. It turns out getting a flu shot can help protect you against heart attacks, too! To guard yourself against these common winter illnesses, practice these healthy behaviors:
The heart is already the hardest working muscle in the body, so it’s a good idea to do all you can to avoid putting more stress on it.
High blood pressure can also exacerbate other conditions such as coronary heart disease, which may cause some people to experience discomfort or chest pain in cold weather. Cold weather diminishes the supply of oxygen-rich blood to your heart and, coupled with a heart condition, increases your chance of a heart attack or another cardiovascular issue. That’s why patients who have a history of some of the following conditions or procedures are at higher risk in the winter:
When it comes to heart and circulation issues, there are some additional risk factors to keep in mind:
It may go without saying, but the warmer your body is, the better blood flow you’ll have through your blood vessels! You can accomplish this in a few ways.
Turns out Jack Frost doesn’t just nip at your nose—he enjoys nipping at your heart too! Since cold winter weather increases your risk of heart and cardiovascular issues, it’s important to practice winter heart health all season. An annual physical is a great way to get a baseline assessment of your heart health. vybe urgent care makes it easy to come in and start a preliminary heart health screening.