Every 40 seconds, a person suffers a heart attack in the U.S. While this potentially fatal incident may seem random, the American Heart Association (AHA) says heart attacks happen more often during winter.

The heart requires oxygenated blood to function properly. A heart attack occurs when an accumulation of plaque in the arteries gets dislodged and breaks away, triggering the formation of a blood clot around it. This, in turn, restricts the flow of blood to the heart. Extremely cold temperatures can trigger this process.

The Link Between Heart Attack Risk and Freezing Weather
Freezing temperatures, particularly rapid temperature changes, could increase the risk of blood vessels constricting. If you already have constricted or narrowed blood vessels due to underlying heart problems and then you experience further narrowing, this will reduce the amount of oxygenated blood that is flowing into your organs. Put simply, cold weather can increase the risk of a heart attack.

Other than causing a severe heart attack, freezing temperatures can also reduce blood flow to your heart, resulting in angina or chest pain. This is a warning sign of coronary artery disease (CAD). It is the primary type of heart disease, which is a blood vessel disorder that could result in a heart attack. Additionally, extremely cold temperatures can strain your circulatory system and impact other types of cardiovascular problems, as well.

Lowering Your Risk of Heart Attack

If you are generally healthy, the cold weather will not really raise your risk of experiencing a heart attack and other cardiovascular events such as angina or stroke. However, these diseases do not always exhibit symptoms or warning signs. This means that you may not realize you have it unless you experience a stroke or heart attack.

Below are tips to help lower your risk of having a heart attack and related events during freezing weather.

  • Visit your doctor for a routine check-up. You should have your blood pressure and cholesterol checked since high blood pressure and cholesterol could increase stroke and heart attack risks.
  • Bundle and layer up. When going out, always wear your gloves, hat, scarf, and layers of your Descente winter jackets to keep your body temperature warm and regulated. But avoid overdoing it, meaning that if you feel too warm, take an item off. Make sure to cover your mouth and nose with your scarf. This will enable the cold air to warm up naturally before you take it into your body. Lastly, remember to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day, whether you are indoors or outdoors. 
  • Rethink snow shoveling. Do you find it harder to exercise because of the cold weather? Well, do not think that snow shoveling will answer all your exercise woes. Anyone suffering from any chronic health condition must consult their doctor if snow shoveling is safe for them. Stick to indoor exercises if working out in the cold is bothering you.
Remember, if you suffer from any kind of heart problem, the cold season could be harmful and even potentially fatal. Make sure to follow these tips and take extra care of your heart during the cold season.