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Posts Tagged ‘heart disease screenings’

Why Winter is the Season of Heart Attacks

January 16, 2014

True or false: the number of cardiac deaths is higher on Christmas Day than any other day of the year. The second highest number of cardiac deaths occurs on Dec. 26, and the third highest occurs on Jan. 1.

The answer is true.

Most people recognize wintertime as cold and flu season, but according to Daily Local News, it’s also heart attack season. Specifically, risk for heart attack doubles in the wintertime compared to summertime.

A number of factors contribute to increased heart attack risk during the winter. Not all the reasons are because of the cold; even people in warmer climates are at greater risk. Below are the main reasons wintertime is the season of heart attacks:


Colder Temperatures

Constricted blood vessels are the body’s response to cold conditions. While this helps retain heat, it also raises blood pressure and forces the heart to work harder. The cold also increases certain proteins that thicken the blood slightly, increasing blood clot risk.

Cold-climate dwellers should bundle up when they go outside. Good tips include wearing gloves, a hat, and a scarf over the mouth.


Snow Shoveling

One reason heart attack rates jump right after a major snowstorm is because of the exertion required to shovel the driveway and sidewalks. Snow shoveling raises blood pressure and can strain the heart. Those factors combined with cold weather can raise heart attack risk.

Older individuals are advised to ask for help with their snow shoveling needs. A snow blower is another useful tool to keep risk of heart attack lower in the winter.


Winter Weight Gain

The holidays usually filled with sugar-filled goodies, large family meals and other holiday treats. These extra calories can mean winter weight gain. If exercise isn’t included during the winter, excess weight can eventually strain the heart.

Everyone should keep tabs on their diet during the holidays. In moderation, it’s okay to enjoy a holiday treat now and then. Remember, though, that staying active even in colder temperatures is crucial to healthy aging.


New Year’s Resolutions

Come January, many people are ready to lose the holiday weight. However, overexertion at the gym can strain the heart and lead to increased risk of heart problems.

Seniors are advised to talk to their doctors about what type of exercise program is appropriate for them.


Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Less time in the sunlight during winter lowers vitamin D levels, which can lead to SAD, a wintertime depression. As with year-round depression, SAD can stress the heart and increase risk for serious heart conditions, such as heart attack.

People can avoid SAD and boost their vitamin D levels by taking supplements. Finding treatment for SAD is also important if you feel it might be affecting you.


Flu Season

Many people are unaware that flu brings with it dangerous inflammation in the body. This inflammation that accompanies the flu can increase clotting and lead to heart attacks in sensitive individuals. Flu shots are an effective heart disease prevention measure this time of year.

Stay proactive with your heart health and learn more about heart disease screenings from Life Line Screening today.


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