Brrr! The weather is becoming brisk and fall chill is in the air. Winter is near! This change of season makes me wonder—how does my “ticker” respond to cold outdoor temperatures? I went online to find out. In a WebMD forum article, a cardiologist answered this question by stating “… cold, especially extreme cold, can affect the heart by constricting the coronary arteries, and overall stress from the cold may/can lead to symptoms such as an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).” Reading that made me want to bundle up in blankets.
The American Heart Association warns that cold weather can be dangerous for people who know they have cardiovascular disease and those who don’t. Apparently cold temperatures can strain the heart more than shovelfuls of snow tossed while clearing a driveway. I always thought people had sudden heart attacks while shoveling snow because of overexertion. Now I know that cold temperatures also stress the heart and other vital organs.
The British Heart Foundation explains that cold weather raises the heart rate and blood pressure, reflecting the body’s hard work to stay warm. Frigid temperatures also raise risk for blood clots, heart attack, and stroke—real daunting possibilities.
I plan to follow these trusted organizations’ advice and bundle up to protect my heart from the effects of cold weather. I won’t stay inside afraid to venture out all fall and winter, but wearing a hat, gloves, and several layers of clothes appeals to me. That gives me options to add or remove protective layers as needed. Please tell me what you know about how cold weather affects you and your heart, and what you plan to do about it.