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Cold Weather and Heart Attack: 12 Ways to Prevent Heart Attack in Winters

HealthcareOnTime Team 2023-11-20 2023-11-21 3 Min Read
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  • heart attack in winter

    Many people are aware that cold weather can cause respiratory tract infections 1 and seasonal affective disorders (SAD), but did you know that cardiac issues like strokes and heart attacks in cold weather are common as well?

    Unveiling the Statistics: How Many People Fall Victim to Heart Attacks Every Winter?

    Cardiovascular diseases are one of the most common causes of death among people worldwide. While the risk of fatality due to cardiac issues is always around, studies have proven a correlation between cold weather and heart disease. Let’s take a look at a few statistics:

    • A recent study 2 indicated that mortality due to cardiac issues is more likely during the winter months.
    • Venous thromboembolism (VTE), a condition that arises when a blood clot builds in a vein, has a 14% - 20% higher incidence rate 2 in winter.
    • Furthermore, 45.8% of studies conducted 2 found that the risk of aortic dissection and rupture was higher during the winter months.
    • Another study 3 indicated that every one-degree drop in temperature (Celsius) would result in a 0.49% increase in deaths as a result of circulatory causes.

    Cardiac issues typically occur more often during the winter months due to numerous factors. We’ll look at some of these below and explore how best you can detect the early signs of a heart attack in winter, what lifestyle changes could help lower your risk, and more. 

    How Cold is Too Cold for Heart Patients: Safe Thresholds for Heart Patients

    For people with cardiac issues, exposure to extreme cold can be hazardous. Cold weather is known to constrict blood vessels, causing higher blood pressure and strain on the heart. Recent research 4 has indicated that cardiovascular diseases can occur at higher rates when the wind chill temperatures are around -3.8°C. 

    This shows it’s important for heart patients to be cautious when stepping out or exercising to reduce the risk of more heart attacks in winter.

    Why Do More People Get Heart Attacks In Winter?

    Now that you're aware of the alarming statistics related to cold weather and heart attacks let’s explore why there appears to be a link between cold weather and heart problems. 

    • Blood vessels constrict in the cold: When the temperature decreases, the blood vessels in the body narrow to conserve heat. This puts more strain on the circulatory system, which, in turn, increases blood pressure and one’s risk for heart attacks.
    • Reduced blood flow from coronary arteries: Cold weather can also cause the coronary arteries to constrict. This, in turn, reduces the flow of blood to the cardiac muscles, which increases the chances of a heart attack in winter.
    • Increased fluid retention: Unlike in the summer months, where sweating causes the body to lose a lot of fluid, there is more fluid retained in the body in the winter, which also contributes to higher blood pressure. 
    • Lack of vitamin D: Several studies 5 have indicated that reduced vitamin D absorption during the winter months could cause increased heart problems.

    Why and How Does Winter Affect Your Heart

    Cold weather and heart failure are related. That said, while the dropping temperature itself can put a strain on the heart, the cold season could also increase one’s risks in other subtle ways. For instance, diminished daylight hours during the cold months can affect circadian rhythms, which could potentially have an impact on blood pressure and heart health. 

    Additionally, people tend to consume fat-rich foods that could result in higher cholesterol levels, which may exacerbate any existing health issues. If you have a genetic predisposition to heart issues or high cholesterol, firstly combat high cholesterol levels with natural remedies, and secondly book a Lipid Panel Test Online before the winter months so you can be mindful of your eating and lifestyle habits.

    During the cold season, more people are also likely to have the seasonal flu, which makes the heart work faster. This may put increased strain on the heart, causing more heart attacks in winter.

    Does Chest Pain In Winters Always Mean a Heart Attack?

    Given the correlation between winter and heart problems, it’s easy to assume that any chest pain or discomfort signals an oncoming heart attack. But this is not always the case. Chest pain can occur due to several other factors, including indigestion or muscle sprains. 

    That said, if you are already at risk for heart issues, it’s best to seek immediate help if you start feeling chest pain.

    How to Detect Early Signs of Heart Attacks and Problems During Winter?

    A heart attack can produce certain early symptoms in both males and females. People who are at risk for heart issues should watch out for these symptoms during the winter months.

    The first sign of a heart attack in males is a sudden pain in the chest that radiates down to the left arm. Most people may confuse this pain with a muscle pull. However, in the case of heart attacks in winter, this pain usually lasts for some time and fluctuates in intensity. 

    Women may experience other symptoms when they have a heart attack in winter, like excessive sweating, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, jaw pain, or flu-like symptoms.

    There are times, however, when a heart attack does not cause any symptoms. This is known as a silent heart attack. To prevent this, it’s best to book a heart health test to evaluate your cardiovascular health accurately.

    What are Common Health Conditions Amplifying Heart Risks In Winter?

    Some of the common health conditions that can increase the incidence or risk for heart attacks in winter include:

    • High cholesterol, especially LDL
    • High blood pressure
    • Coronary heart disease
    • Angina
    • Diabetes
    • Obesity

    That said, keep in mind that some of these risk factors have a higher significance than others when it comes to heart health. One study 6 for instance, suggested that alcohol consumption and smoking were the most likely risk factors to trigger a heart attack in the winter months.

    Given this, people who are at risk for heart-related ailments should undergo an Advanced Heart Health Checkup.

    Who Is Most at Risk of a Winter Heart Attack?

    People who are most at risk for heart attacks in the winter months include

    • Those with a prior history of cardiovascular diseases.
    • Those who have had a heart attack or stroke previously.
    • Those with high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.
    • Those who smoke and drink in excess
    • Those who are obese and lead an inactive or sedentary lifestyle.

    Prevent a Heart Attack In Winter - Winter-Proofing Your Heart: 12 Proactive Steps

    Winters and heart attacks go hand in hand. However, there are things you can do to lessen your risk, such as:

    • Make sure to dress in layers so you’re never too cold.
    • Don’t perform any activity in the cold that is extremely taxing on the body.
    • Drink sufficient water, especially when you are exercising.
    • If you are trying to exercise outdoors, light activity like walking or stretching is recommended. You can also exercise within your house. 
    • Book a Cardiac Risk Marker Test to know if you’re at risk for heart disease.
    • Limit consumption of alcohol and caffeine since these drinks can increase your blood pressure.
    • Smoking significantly increases the risk of heart disease and should be avoided at all costs.
    • Eat a nutritional diet that is rich in fiber and protein. Try to cap your intake of saturated fats.
    • Manage stress by partaking in hobbies or activities that bring you joy. 
    • Keep up on your preventive health care and regular health checkups so you can catch any potential issues soon.
    • Regularly check your blood pressure and consult your healthcare provider if it exceeds healthy levels.
    • Protect yourself against respiratory infections by getting vaccinated against the flu and pneumonia.

    Lifestyle Changes to Prevent a Heart Attack

    Apart from the aforementioned proactive steps, certain lifestyle changes can significantly reduce the risk of a heart attack during winter. Lifestyle changes like losing weight, exercising indoors, and eating healthy can go a long way in reducing the chances of heart attacks in winter. If you reside in an extremely cold place, make sure to consume warm drinks and meals to warm up. You should also book a Basic Heart Health Checkup Test to look out for potential issues.

    Diet, Vitamins, and Foods to Prevent Heart Attacks

    This table indicates what people who are at risk for cardiovascular ailments can consume to manage their heart health better:

    Diet Type

    Recommended Foods

    Key Vitamins

    Vegetarian Diet

    Leafy greens, nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits, whole grains, and dairy alternatives

    Vitamins B9, B12, D, E, Iron and Calcium

    Pescatarian Diet

    Fatty fish like mackerel and salmon, shellfish, and seaweed

    Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Vitamins D, B12, Iron

    Non-vegetarian Diet

    Lean meats, dairy, and eggs

    Vitamins B6, B12, D, Zinc, and Iron

    Emergency Response: What to Do If You Suspect a Winter Heart Attack

    If you suspect a heart attack or are facing any discomfort, make sure to seek immediate medical attention. You can also chew one adult-strength aspirin, which can help with blood clotting. Despite how you’re feeling, do not drive yourself to the hospital. Instead, call an ambulance and wait for help.

    Conclusion: Keeping Safe During Winter Months

    While there’s no way to eliminate the risk of heart attacks during the winter months, there are several things you can do to lessen the chances of such incidents. cold weather can pose a significant risk to heart health and increase the likelihood of heart attacks. Understanding the link between cold weather and heart attacks is the first step toward prevention.

    Remember, your heart deserves the utmost care and attention, regardless of the season. Stay vigilant, listen to your body, and seek medical assistance without delay if any symptoms of a heart attack arise. Let's embrace winter with caution and prioritize our heart health to enjoy the beauty of the season to the fullest!


    The information listed here is strictly for educational purposes and is not intended to offer personal medical advice. Do consult your physician for any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. It’s not advised to disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information listed here. The Nutrition Source does not recommend or endorse any products.


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    What are the best winter activities for people with heart disease?

    Individuals with heart disease can engage in heart-healthy winter activities to stay active without compromising their health. Brisk walking in a winter wonderland, snowshoeing, or gentle, supervised skiing are excellent choices. Indoor options like mall walking, swimming in heated pools, or low-impact aerobic classes provide warmth and cardiovascular benefits. Bundle up for short outdoor sessions to soak up sunlight, boosting mood and vitamin D. Always consult a healthcare professional before starting any new activity, and listen to your body's signals. Safe winter activities enhance cardiovascular fitness, fostering overall well-being for those managing heart conditions.

    What are some winter fruits that are good for heart health?

    Winter offers an abundance of heart-healthy fruits to incorporate into your diet. Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits provide vitamin C and antioxidants, supporting cardiovascular health. Pomegranates, rich in punicalagins, may contribute to lower blood pressure. Apples offer soluble fiber for cholesterol regulation, while berries like blueberries and strawberries provide anthocyanins that reduce oxidative stress. Kiwi supplies potassium for blood pressure control, and grapes contain heart-protective resveratrol. Bananas contribute potassium, vital for heart function. Avocados, though unique, offer monounsaturated fats that promote heart health


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