For most of the year, our hearts thrive from exercise and manual tasks, such as working in the yard. However, cold weather can affect our vascular systems in ways that can be potentially dangerous. This season, be prepared and learn how cold weather can increase the risk of a heart attack and what you can do to keep it safe.
How the Cold Affects Your Heart
As the temperature falls in winter and nervous systems react, our heart and veins begin to contract. This makes your heart work harder. As our veins narrow, plaque could clog the arteries more effectively, increasing the possibility of a heart attack. Another concern is when we perform manual labor outside in the cold, our bodies have difficulty in recognizing how tired we are and we overexert ourselves. Pushing yourself to a point of exhaustion can put you at further risk.
3 Changes to Keep Your Heart Safe
Now that you know how the cold can affect your heart, it is important to take proactive steps to protecting it. We recommend the following in order to best safeguard your health:
- Communicate with Your Doctor — Request an appointment with your doctor to discuss any health concerns and how much you can exert yourself. If you have any heart conditions or high blood pressure, make sure to consult your doctor on what flu and cold medicine you should take. These medicines can raise blood pressure or lead to an irregular heartbeat.
- Dress to the Weather — With freezing weather as a realistic possibility this season, try to stay warm in order to avoid hypothermia. Hypothermia reduces the rate at which your blood flows. Long exposure, in some instances, can lead to heart failure. Wearing multiple layers, a scarf, hat and gloves prevents the heat from escaping your body and insulates you from the cold.
- Avoid Alcohol — When alcohol is consumed, the vessels in our bodies widen. As blood travels through the larger veins, heat leaves our vital organs. Maintaining that warmth is crucial for keeping our hearts safe.
This winter, be mindful of the temperature outside. Whether you’re running outside or carrying in firewood, your heart needs more care and attention in cold weather. If you are concerned about your health, request an appointment with your doctor.