Winter is the beautiful time of year. However, it can also be detrimental to your heart. Heart attacks are already problematic in their own right. Various studies have shown that the numbers of heart attacks are more during the wintertime than at any other time of the year. Besides, most of the deaths in cold weather occur due to stroke, respiratory diseases, and heart disease.
This time of the year poses different health issues, combating flu and cold, traveling safely, and avoiding slips and falls. Being aware of how winter can affect your heart is an unwanted addition to your list, which could save your life.
Why do more Heart Attacks Occur in Winter?
Have you ever tried to find the possible cause behind this phenomenon and how you can lower your risk? Since its discovery, many cardiology experts and doctors have put for the potential causes.
Before the probable causes are discussed, you need to understand what it means to have more heart attacks in the winter months. For instance, if you see the loss of patients coming to the hospital during the last year, for some reason, you will observe that more people had heart attacks during colder months. Studies conducted in the real world show perhaps there is a 31-33% higher incidence of heart attacks in winter. Besides, with every one degree Celsius drop in the temperature, there is an increase of 0.49% in the deaths from other causes.
Let’s see the reasons behind this discovery.
Constriction of Blood Vessels
The cold season leads to various physiological changes that accumulate in the body to cause a heart attack eventually. During the winters, when the temperature drops, the body needs to keep staying warm, maintaining the normal body temperature. In order to do this, the blood vessels tighten, constrict, or become narrower. It leads to harder pumping of the blood through the blood vessels. It means that the blood pressure is higher universally during the cold season.
Increased Oxygen Requirement
The oxygen requirement of the body shoots up during the winter season. Besides, reduced amounts of oxygen reach the heart with blood vessels constricting. It poses imminent risks for a heart attack. Moreover, higher blood pressure may work with the constricting coronary arteries. It can reduce the oxygen and blood flow to the heart and its muscles, leading to a heart attack.
Higher Blood Volume
The blood volume is higher in winters, unlike in summers when you experience more sweating. So the more fluids are retained in the body leading to higher blood pressure.
Higher Intake of Cholesterol Raising Foods
People find it difficult to get out and be more physically active in the colder temperature. Besides, people tend to put off exercising, which is not good for the heart. Lifestyle and food habits also change as they consume food that can increase their cholesterol. And body also goes through hormonal changes in the winter months, such as higher levels of clotting factors. It can increase the risk of a blood clot which can cause both strokes and heart attacks. The small clots block the constricted blood vessels preventing the blood from reaching the heart and other organs. This gravely impacts heart health and the arteries.
Lower Levels of Sun Exposure
A decreased level of sun exposure is also one of the common reasons. It may be since people prefer to stay indoors or perhaps some places receive less sunlight. Reduced sun exposure can lead to Vitamin D deficiencies. Several studies show the relationship between Vitamin D deficiency and cardiovascular disease. However, there is no such evidence that supports that taking vitamin D supplements can reduce the risks of cardiac problems. Still, it is noticed that lower vitamin D levels are associated indirectly with more heart issues.
Who is at Higher Risk?
The above mechanisms and reasons are universal to all human beings. But it is not like any one of them can be the reason behind a heart attack. Instead, every factor plays an important part in increasing the risk. But these things together may also not be enough. It suggests that you may be at risk. People with risk may find that their bodies are being pushed to the limits during the cold season, leading to a higher risk of a cardiac incident.
The older people who drink and smoke regularly and those who don’t get any physical activity are more at risk. Being regular in your physical activities and limiting yourself to exposed cold temperatures helps lower your risk of a cardiac attack in winters.
How Can You Reduce Your Risk?
Cardiac issues can be of a substantial risk and require precarious care at all ages. With already high pollution levels and during the winter season, it is crucial to follow the correct approach and stay on the right health track to keep the heart problems at bay.
Stay physically active
If you fear the cold temperatures to step out, find some options to exercise indoors. Regular exercise and physical activity boost your immunity and help you regulate body heat. Meditation, yoga, heart-friendly aerobic moves, and home workouts can work wonders for you.
Ensure you are appropriately dressed
With winter increases the chances of falling sick. Ensure to dress well and cover yourself in layers for the cold weather if you are at risk. It is a good way to keep you warm and tackle the weather woes.
Keep a check on your eating habits
Winters accompanies an increase in your appetite as well. People may tend to have more sweet and fried food rich in sugars, fats, and cholesterol. Stay within limits and track your eating habits. Besides, look for healthier alternatives and limit your tobacco and alcohol consumption.
To reduce the heart risks and prevent your heart health from getting worse, you must go for your preventive screenings from time to time and assess risk factors, familial risks and act accordingly. Do not delay in getting the help you need. Take immediate action and be aware of the symptoms.
The Bottom Line
Your heart health is very important for your overall well-being. So always take care of your body by having regular checkups and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. And never forget to stay stress-free and happy as it always suggested for good health.