Eating habits, sedentary lifestyles, genetics and yes, cold weather can increase your risk of a heart attack.
Heart attacks do not just afflict the older generation however. Younger generations because of their lifestyle and increased stress, some of which is linked to social media, yes social media is linked to depression in younger people, surprising right. There is more anxiety because of all this, and, of course, poor eating habits and a lack of exercise contribute to a greater risk of heart attacks at a younger age as well (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2016).
Cold weather can and will increase your blood pressure and will raise cholesterol levels, both of which raise your risk for a heart attack. The cold can also make blood more likely to form heart-threatening clots.
One study concluded every 1.8° F (1° C) temperature drop was linked with a 2 percent increase in the risk of having a heart attack. According to another study published in 2015, there is up to a 31 percent increase in heart attacks in the coldest months of the year as compared to the warmest.
As your body gets colder your blood vessels tighten, and thus blood flow speeds up. This helps to increase your core body temperature by pumping blood to vital organs, in particular, the brain. This raises your blood pressure, however, and if you already have a problem with high blood pressure, you may find yourself in trouble.
With the winter months comes the holidays, where food and alcohol consumption may rise as well, which does not help those that do not exercise on a regular basis and already have underlying medical conditions, which some may not even be aware of.
It is important that you know your risks. Do you even know what your blood pressure is, do you know your cholesterol levels, and is there a history of heart problems in your family? You need a checkup, so you know the risks, and thus, can avoid increasing your risk by shoveling snow or pushing cars that may be stuck in a snowdrift or through an icy intersection. You cannot go from zero or very little exercise to shoveling snow and pushing cars.
If you do not get much exercise, start slow and work your way up, but only after seeing a medical professional who can assess your risk and advise you on an exercise routine.
Remember, if the power goes out your physical activity may very well rise. Snow covered roads may mean that you have to walk, and if the outage is for an extended period, you will have to perform your normal daily tasks without the aid of power tools, equipment, and appliances.
In extreme cases, you may have to evacuate, and possibly on foot, and if you are not physically capable of doing this and do it anyway, you may be setting yourself up for a heart attack, which is the last thing you need during a crisis or at any time for that matter.
Take the stairs, watch what you eat and have your vital signs checked regularly and if you need medications take it. Blood pressure and cholesterol levels can be managed by diet and exercise in many cases, but it takes a commitment.
There is no better time than now to start, by first having a checkup so you know and then find out what your options are and start by living better to live longer and to decrease your chances of a heart attack.
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016). Retrieved 2016, from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/127/4/800.short
Roberts, S. H. (2016). Retrieved 2016, from http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/index.htm