The number of people who have a heart attack increases when the weather is cold. That number increases even more around the winter Holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and on into February and Valentine’s Day. The p henomenon even has its own names – Merry Christmas Coronary and Happy Hanukkah heart attack. Take these precautions during the winter to help avoid becoming a cold weather heart attack statistic.
The colder temperatures cause the blood vessels to constrict. If there is plaque already in the arteries, it now has less space to travel in and often settles in to build layer upon layer until the narrowed artery becomes a clogged artery. Depending on where the artery clog is located determines how life threatening the blockage may be.
The constricted blood vessels also cause blood pressure to rise. Narrowed arteries, higher blood pressure, potential artery-clogging plaque traveling through tighter spaces – it all adds up to a potential heart attack or stroke waiting to happen.
Get Out of Line
Get out of the buffet line. During the Holidays the amount of high fat, high cholesterol food is at its peak of availability. Additional stress brought on by shopping, entertaining family and overstretching our energy budget is often self-medicated and self-soothed by a second helping of mashed potatoes or another slice of cake. Put the spoon down and go for a walk to help keep your heart strong and waistline slim.
Buffet lines abound even when it’s not a Holiday. Cold weather makes eating an indoor entertainment and sports activity, increasing the risk for a cold weather heart attack.
Bundle up and stay warm. Going outdoors even on the coldest of days is essential for most of the population. There’s work, school, shopping and a host of other daily activities which must be done regardless of the temperature. Bundle up when you go outside, include a covering for face, throat and hands. When walking or jogging outdoors or taking the dog for a walk dress warmly and if your toes begin to go numb, it’s time to head back inside to the warmth of the heater.
Our internal thermometer cools down at night to signal our body that it’s time to go to sleep and we sleep more soundly in a cool room. Cool is fine, cold is not. If your bedroom is below 60 degrees at night, turn the thermostat up to 65 to help stave off a cold weather heart attack.
Give your body a break from constantly battling against stress and cold temperatures by spending a little time each day relaxing. Read, sew, listen to music, take a warm bath or whatever else helps you to relax for 15 to 30 minutes per day.
The New York Times