Heart Healthy Tips

You would think that because you are not out in the blazing hot sun that you could rest easier with matters of the heart, but not so. In fact, the incidence of heart attacks seems to go up during the winter. Why is this?

First of all let’s look at cold weather. Just like the bears, we get slower, inside and out. The body temperature under normal conditions is a balmy 98.6 degrees. It has to work harder during the winter to maintain that core temperature.

To that end, the blood vessels constrict to preserve heat. If you are someone with a history of heart problems, constricted blood vessels is the last thing you need. Because the opening in the vessels (lumen) is smaller, it will take more force to push the blood through, leading to a rise in blood pressure.

Combine all of that with outdoor activity in the winter, and you are looking at conditions that could be ripe for a heart attack. Shoveling snow is hard strenuous work that can lead to signs of a heart attack in certain people.

So, what can you do about it?

* Eat a sensible diet – Most of us tend towards not eating well when it gets cold, but there are benefits to it. For one, a good diet can lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight. Combine this with exercise and your heart could be in the clear.

* Warm up – The body will have a harder time maintaining body temperature if you just get out of bed and throw on your coat before heading out the door. If you are going to be outside shoveling snow or playing a winter sport, spend time indoors warming up. Jog in place or jump some rope. Once you are limbered up, be sure to perform some dynamic stretching to get the body going. Them, head outdoors for play or chores.

* Dress warmly – You don’t have to be wrapped up like a mummy. Layer your clothing so you don’t feel heavy but you are well protected from the elements.

* Consult a doctor – This is true for everyone but especially if you have lived a life on the couch. Going from sedentary to fully active shoveling snow can be a deadly shock to the system. Ask if it is okay for you to do such heavy lifting.

* Take breaks – Don’t shovel snow for three hours and fall into the house panting. A regular break every thirty minutes gives the body time to rest and you time to get warm.