Cold weather and heart disease

SAAOL E Magzine - Cold Weather And Heart Disease

Why more heart attacks happen in the winter

There are several ways that the cold weather affects your heart. Temperatures can vary greatly during the colder months, and the heat produced to keep your biological systems warm can be dangerous in extreme conditions, causing ‘hypothermia,’ which can damage the heart’s blood vessels. In response to the cold, your circulatory system alters physically. Additionally, you might be less active in the winter.

Narrowed blood vessels: Typically, when you exercise or engage in physical activity, your blood vessels widen to let more oxygen into your body to support the task being done. However, blood vessels contract in the cold, making it more difficult for blood to reach your heart. If your blood arteries already have plaque accumulation, this is very concerning. It’s more possible that blood won’t be able to reach your heart and the rest of your body if the cold shrinks capillaries that are already partially clogged by plaque accumulation. The result could be a heart attack.

Increased blood pressure: Your blood pressure measures the pressure in your arteries. Your heart has to work harder to pump blood where it needs to go because cold constricts the blood vessels. This indicates that chilly temperatures may cause blood pressure to rise. A brief rise in blood pressure is usually not a major concern if your blood pressure is normally within the normal range. However, if your blood pressure is consistently high, it can result in unexpected artery blockages, which raises your risk of heart attack and stroke.


Increased pulse rate: Have you ever noticed that the cold makes your heart beat more quickly? Your heart rate can be impacted by the cold because when the temperature drops, your body has to work harder to stay warm, which raises your heart rate.

And one last thing: Know the signs of heart trouble
What are the symptoms of a failing heart, when you should slow down and perhaps seek Medical attention?
The most typical indicator of a heart attack and cardiovascular issues is chest pain, regardless of whether you’ve just finished shovelling snow or are relaxing while reading a book. Chest pain is frequently described as a tightness, heaviness, burning, or heartburn in the middle of the chest that may radiate to the arms, neck, chin, rear of the chest, or upper centre of the stomach. Other typical symptoms include shortness of breath, increased perspiration, light-headedness or dizziness, and nausea. If you feel any of the above symptoms while shovelling or engaging in any other physical activity outside in the cold, stop what you’re doing right away and take a break. When your heart starts to beat more quickly than usual, it’s preferable to stop even sooner.

Cold weather and winter activities: When they’re a recipe for heart attack risk
Since the cardiovascular system doesn’t work as well in cold temperatures, does that mean you should only exercise inside during the winter? No. It simply means that you should pay attention to your body when skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, skating, or participating in other activities that place additional strain on your heart. This is especially true when it comes to snow shovelling, which has been linked to a number of winter heart attacks. 

What should heart patients keep in mind?
The risk is greater for those who already have heart problems. The heart must work harder to maintain temperature balance, and because oxygen requirements rise, it can cause a heart attack in severe cases.
“Patients diagnosed with poor heart function pose a more severe risk of fluid accumulation in the lungs; this can cause issues where the person may find it hard to breathe normally. Furthermore, because respiratory illnesses are fairly common during this time of year, they can add to the stress by increasing the overall heart rate in order to obtain more oxygen.”

How can you tell if you have a heart problem?
Not every heart condition has warning signs. Always be on the lookout for warning signs and seek medical attention right away. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, seek immediate medical attention:


  • Any discomfort or pain in the chest
  • During a heart attack, some people may experience heartburn, indigestion, and stomach pain.
  • Sometimes there is no chest pain, but there is pain in the shoulder and arm.
  • Dizziness
  • Wheezing and shortness of breath
  • Cough that lasts for a long time in a heart patient
  • Easily fatigued
  • Sweating without engaging in physical activity

Things to do for a healthy heart during winter:

  • Wear sweaters, jackets, and warmers to help your body regulate temperature more effectively.
  • It is crucial to avoid excessive drinking and smoking.
  • People crave cholesterol-rich foods in the winter, which can harm heart health; a balanced diet should be followed.
  • To improve cardiovascular activity, engage in daily physical activities such as running, cycling, and so on. Taking steps to manage your stress in a healthy manner, reducing your workload, and completing your daily sleep cycles will all help to ensure the same.
  • If you have other diseases, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, it is critical to monitor all factors that can impair your body’s functions and worsen cardiac issues.

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