Heart Disease And Cold Weather - Healthy Tips From Sue

March 4th, 2015

Thank you all for the many suggestions I received for upcoming articles of interest. For March, I chose to

address heart disease and cold weather.

It is very important to know how cold weather affects your heart, especially if you have cardiovascular disease. People with heart conditions should avoid outdoor exertion, like shoveling snow and walking through heavy wet snow.

Snow shoveling is a strenuous activity that, when coupled with cold temperatures, increases the demand on your heart. When breathing in cold air, blood vessels are constricted, which may reduce blood flow to the heart. This causes your heart to pump harder, increasing the risk of chest pain and the possibility of a heart attack. People with existing heart problems have a 50% higher risk of heart attacks in the winter versus the summer months.

Tips for heart disease and cold weather:

  • If you must be outside, wear a breathable mask that covers your nose and mouth. This will help reduce the amount of cold air that you inhale.
  • Wear a hat. This will help reduce heat loss from the top of your head.
  • If you must shovel snow, (although I would recommend someone else do the heavy labor) take frequent breaks.
  • Do not eat a heavy meal prior to working outside in the cold.
  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages prior to outside activities. This can give you a false sense of warmth.
  • Be aware of the symptoms of hypothermia: lack of coordination, mental confusion, slowed reactions, shivering, and sleepiness (to name a few).
  • Dress in layers.

Please keep the suggestions coming.

Warm Regards,
Sue Rohr
Health and Wellness Director