Winter in Vermont is always an exciting time for those who love to ski, snowboard, or even to just play in the snow! Unfortunately, winter is also a time where your heart health can be put at risk if you aren’t aware of the health risks associated with colder weather, which can lead to a heart attack.
We want to keep our friends and families safe, so we put together this guide to help you protect your heart and health this winter.
What does it mean to exert yourself too much in winter?
Winter exertion can mean anything from going for a walk in deep snow or shoveling wet heavy snow from your driveway. These things put extra stress on your heart because cold temperatures make your body work harder for oxygen, which affects blood going through your heart and body. This can lead to a heart attack.
What are the risks of exerting yourself in cold weather?
Risks of exertion can be minor or they can be very serious:
- Cold Exposure. Being in cold temperatures causes your blood vessels to constrict, making your body work harder to move blood around and help the heart to function at its best.
- Overheating. Overheating causes blood vessels to dilate, which lowers blood pressure dramatically. If you are overdressed or feeling too warm while exerting yourself, it is best to slow down, take a break, or take off a layer of clothing.
- Influenza. Surprisingly, getting the flu can really be a risk factor for having a heart attack. Having the flu causes your heart to beat faster in response to the feverish symptoms. It can also make you dehydrated, which will reduce your blood pressure and the heart’s supply of oxygen.
- Missed Prescriptions. Make sure to plan ahead if you know the travel conditions are not going to be ideal. It’s important to have all your necessary medication to keep your blood pressure controlled and manage other heart-related conditions.
Other Factors that Increase Your Risk of Heart Attack:
- Poor diet or obesity
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Age (45+)
- Males are more likely than females to suffer heart attacks
Signs of a Heart Attack
- Chest discomfort feeling like pressure, fullness, squeezing, or pain.
- Unusual shortness of breath.
- Pain or discomfort in arms, back, stomach, neck, or jaw.
Make sure to keep these things in mind this winter when continuing your active lifestyle! It is important to be informed about potential risks, but it is also important to keep on moving.