The Seasonal Link: Understanding Winter's Impact on Heart Health
Medically Reviewed By
Dr Sohini Sengupta
Written By Meenakshi
on Dec 4, 2023
Last Edit Made By Meenakshi
on Dec 4, 2023
Winter not only brings picturesque views and cozy moments, but it also comes with its challenges. Amid this seasonal charm, hidden dangers can affect our heart health. With the drop in temperature, our blood vessels tighten, making our hearts work harder. This sudden strain and changes in habits like exercise and diet can affect normal heart function, leading to heart problems. It is important to be aware of these challenges and take steps to stay healthy during the colder months. So, let’s get started to find the link between winter’s impact on heart health.
The Impact Of Seasonal Changes On Cardiovascular Health:
- Temperature & Heart Functions: The drop in temperature can narrow the blood vessels, potentially increasing strain on the heart and elevating blood pressure. This, all in all, can influence the heart’s function, leading to several challenges.
- Seasonal Changes and Physical Activity: The seasonal change in the temperature can limit outdoor activities, lead to a decrease in exercise, and affect heart health.
- Overexertion: While some people choose no exercise during winter, some overdo it. However, we need to understand that balance is the key. Also, exercises like brisk walking or running in cold temperatures increase our heart’s demand for oxygen, leading to heart troubles.
- Overheating: Layering yourself in a bundle of clothes can also overheat your body. Too much warm clothing can cause blood vessels to dilate and lower blood pressure drastically, triggering a heart attack.
- Dietary Shifts: Whether we accept it, the decrease in temperature increases our cravings for heavier or less heart-healthy foods, leading to more digestive and heart-related health issues during the season.
- Mental Health & Heart Wellness: Lastly, seasonal changes bring seasonal mood shifts, which, besides impacting our mental health, indirectly influence our heart health.
- Influenza: Seasonal flu can make our heart beat rapidly, increasing oxygen demand and risk for heart attack.
So, in short, one in another way, the change in temperature takes a toll on our heart health. This is the reason people have more cardiac issues in winter. Therefore, being mindful of your choices and taking the right approach is essential to get the most out of the season without falling sick. Now the question is, what kind of heart disease increases during winter? Scroll down to get your answer.
Common Heart Problems During Winter:
- Heart Attack: If we believe some studies, cold weather can trigger heart attack incidence around 31-33%. The common reason that increases heart attack risks during winter is increased blood pressure, heart rate, and constricted blood vessels caused by exposure to cold temperatures.
- Angina (Chest Pain): Moreover, cold temperatures can cause blood vessels to narrow, reducing blood flow to the heart and leading to discomfort or chest pain for people with existing coronary artery disease.
- Hypothermia-Related Complications: Winters are not easy for people with heart problems. Prolonged exposure to cold can also cause Hypothermia, causing the heart to work harder to maintain body temperature, leading to irregular heartbeats or cardiac arrest.
- Respiratory Infections Impacting the Heart: Chilly winters often cause respiratory infections like flu or pneumonia, which indirectly can strain the heart, especially for individuals with ongoing heart diseases.
Understanding these potential heart diseases can empower individuals to take preventive measures. Maintaining heart health and seeking routine heart screening is essential, especially during the colder months. But how exactly do regular heart checkups help manage heart problems better?
- Helps With Early Detection: Regular heart screening detects heart-related issues early, even before symptoms appear, allowing timely intervention, especially during a season when heart problems can exacerbate.
- Monitor Existing Conditions: Individuals with known heart conditions can benefit from winter routine health screening to help doctors closely monitor heart health, ensuring that any changes or worsening of symptoms are promptly addressed.
- Risk Assessment: Winter routine screening provides a comprehensive evaluation of individual heart health, assessing risk factors like cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and overall cardiovascular health, which helps plan preventive measures specific to the winter season.
Routine health screening during winter acts as a proactive measure, empowering individuals to safeguard the heart and overall health and potentially prevent or manage heart-related complications with cold temperatures and seasonal changes.
Besides health checkups, what other tips can come in handy for heart-healthy winter living? Let’s find them here.
Tips For Winter Heart Care:
- Dress For the Weather: The first and foremost thing that matters is to keep yourself layered in the right clothes. Dress warmly to avoid sudden temperature changes that could stress the heart.
- Eat Healthy: You should eat a balanced diet that includes a lot of seasonal fruits and vegetables to ensure that it gives you all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that your heart needs for healthy pumping.
- Exercise Daily: No matter the season, exercise is important to stay healthy. Therefore, choose heart-friendly exercises to keep you warm and your heart pumping.
- Stress Less: Do not take stress as it can also strain your heart and lead to varied complications. So stay away from stress to keep your heart healthy and happy.
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So, this winter, be ready to take charge of your health for healthy and heart-friendly winters.