There are plenty of reasons to love winter, from the cheer of the holidays to the respite from hot and humid summer weather. But there are also plenty of reasons to hate it, including the cold. According to cardiovascular researchers, cold weather may not just be unpleasant, but can also increase your risk of a heart attack. Here’s what you need to know.
Guide to Cold Weather & Cardiovascular Health
How Does Cold Weather Affect the Heart?
When you’re cold, your blood vessels contract. A rapid change in temperature is particularly likely to make this happen. For people with coronary artery disease or poor circulation, this can be dangerous, as blood flow to the heart is already reduced. Further constriction can mean the heart doesn’t receive the blood it needs to function efficiently.
What Does the Research Say?
Cardiology researchers at the University of Michigan studied data from more than 30,000 patients treated at 45 Michigan hospitals between 2010 and 2016 and concluded the risk of a heart attack increased about 5 percent for every 9 degrees Fahrenheit temperature increase. The patients involved in the study had all undergone percutaneous coronary intervention, a procedure in which clogged arteries are opened, after experiencing ST-elevated myocardial infarction, or the most severe type of heart attack. Researchers calculated the temperature fluctuation preceding their heart attack based on their zip code.
What Can You Do?
Even if you live in a cold climate and cannot move to one with fewer temperature fluctuations, there are plenty of ways to reduce your risk of heart attack. If you smoke, drink, or eat foods high in fat and sugar, reduce these habits or try to cut them out completely, as they can all increase your risk of cardiovascular issues. If you’re overweight and lead a sedentary lifestyle, this also increases your risk. Talk to your doctor about ways to improve your health and fitness so you strengthen your heart and increase overall wellness.
The best way to prevent a heart attack is to be proactive about your health. If you’re a Dothan, AL, resident, turn to the trusted cardiologists at Premier Cardiology Consultants. Their team has served residents of Houston County and the surrounding area for more than 25 years with a broad range of services, from blood pressure and heart disease treatment to cardiovascular surgery. Call (334) 699-6396 or visit the website to learn more about how they can help you improve your heart health today.