The winter season brings about lower temperatures that can affect your heart in many ways. The cold weather causes the blood vessels to narrow which puts a strain on the heart to move the blood throughout the body to keep warm.
People who are diagnosed with coronary heart disease are especially affected during the cold seasons because they can often suffer from chest pain or discomfort known as angina pectoris. Also, children and the elderly can be more at risk due to limited communication or decreased mobility.
Contacting a heart doctor in Lafayette, LA can help you better understand what dangers the cold weather can have on the heart.
Ways Cold Weather Can Affect the Heart
- The heart must work harder to sustain body heat.
- The oxygen supply to the heart is reduced because the blood vessels become narrow and constricted.
- The heart must pump faster to circulate blood through the constricted blood vessels.
- Cold weather plus physical exertion can elevate blood pressure and heighten your heart rate.
- If the body temperature drops dangerously low (below 95 degrees Fahrenheit), it can cause hypothermia.
- It can cause the blood to thicken which may lead to blood clotting (worst case scenario).
Preparing for colder weather should involve more than just getting your home ready to keep the cold outside. It is also important to know the risk factors that may contribute to your heart health making you more vulnerable to the changing weather conditions.
As the wind increases, it pulls the layer of heated air from the body causing it to feel much colder than it truly is. If the body temperature is not able to replenish the heat being lost, a drop in the core body temperature occurs which makes someone susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite.
Signs of Hypothermia
- Frequent shivering or a halt in shivering.
- Weak pulse
- Lack of coordination
- Slurred speech
- Slow shallow breathing
Hypothermia causes your heart and other organs to not work properly. If this is left untreated, it can lead to heart and respiratory failure, and possible death. If this happens, it is vital to contact a local heart doctor in Lafayette, LA immediately.
As the body fights hypothermia, it can cause a lack of circulation, especially to the fingers and toes. Keeping active during cold weather months can increase your endurance to help you tolerate the cold weather temperatures better.
Ways to stay active in Fall and Winter Months
- Walking at indoor sites such as the mall.
- Swimming in an indoor pool.
- Take the stairs or walk the hallways during a work break.
- Exercise at home with a DVD or a YouTube video.
- Participate in a yoga or pilates class.
Ways to Keep Warm During Cold Weather
- Layering clothing. When clothes are layered, it traps air forming protective insulation for the body.
- Tight clothing. Do not wear clothing that is too tight because it can constrict the blood flow through the vessels.
- Overexertion. Taking frequent breaks while performing physical activities outside will help to avoid exertion.
- Avoid alcohol. Drinking alcohol can mislead you into thinking you feel warm, therefore underestimating your body’s actual temperature making you more susceptible to hypothermia.
Since more people die each year from heart disease, it is especially important to be mindful of heart health during the winter months. Listening to your body, paying attention to how you feel, and taking it slow and easy when being active during cold weather can help you to avoid serious heart issues that may occur.
A sudden increase in blood pressure when combined with outdoor activity can lead to a heart attack, stroke, and unstable chest pain. Those who are at a higher risk for heart problems should practice healthier habits to keep their body temperature regulated.
If you or someone you love has heart disease or is experiencing heart problems, contact CT Cardio today to help formulate a plan. Taking extra measures at this time of year to ensure a safer season is important to your heart health.
Dr. Corwin A. Thomas is one of the leading heart doctors in Lafayette, LA so is highly trained to treat a variety of heart issues. Healthy habits are your heart’s desire and CT Cardio wants to get your heart healthier.