Cold-Weather Heartbreak

19 September, 2012

Cold temperatures constrict blood vessels and cause blood to clot more easily. Throw in hypertension and demanding physical activity and you could have a recipe for a heart attack. To help protect yourself when you venture out into a deep freeze, layer up, avoid sudden exertion, and don't drink alcoholic beverages beforehand. If you must engage in heavy outdoor labor, save it for the afternoon. Here's why…

People experience a natural adrenaline surge in the morning. Add the vessel-constricting effects of cold weather and a bit of heavy exertion and you can put quite a strain on your cardiovascular system. Fit and healthy people may be able to handle it. But for people with high blood pressure or other heart conditions, it could be risky.

Save cold-weather physical activities, such as shoveling the walkway, hiking in the snowy woods, or taking down the outdoor holiday lights, for later in the day. And even then, bundle up and stay warm.

SOURCES: Bad weather -- an important protective factor for myocardial infarction in Switzerland. An analysis from 5,553 patients from the AMIS registry 1999-2002. Hunziker, P. Osterwalder, R., Pfisterer, M., Defila, C., Albisser, P., Radovanovic, D., Urban, P., Bertel, O., Erne, P., Marsch, S., European Society of Cardiology Congress, Aug. 28–Sept. 1, 2004, Munich, Germany.

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