Keep your heart healthy all winter!
Brrrr! A new Swedish study confirms that as temperatures fall each winter, our heart attack risk climbs, and recent U. S. research points to a 35% increase in heart attacks in winter! How can you keep your heart healthy all season long? Easily!
Maximize blood flow by bundling up!
“When your body is suddenly exposed to frigid temperatures, blood vessels constrict, increasing your heart rate, raising your blood pressure and forcing your heart to work harder,” says cardiologist Ildiko Agoston, M.D., of the Women’s Comprehensive Health Institute at the University of Texas in San Antonio. Your best defense? Wear layers to trap heat inside as insulation.
Prevent blockages with smart shoveling!
Cold weather plus any exertion (such as shoveling snow or walking briskly against a stiff wind) can prod arteries to constrict and hormone levels to fluctuate, “causing platelets to get stickier and clots to form more easily,” says cardiologist Samin Sharma, M. D., director of Clinical and Interventional Cardiology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. To protect yourself, move slowly and follow the American Heart Association guidelines for snow shoveling: Use a small shovel, push the snow rather than lift it, take lots of breaks and don’t eat a big meal before or after shoveling.
Lower your blood pressure with hot cocoa!
Heading outdoors? Skip the alcohol! It can increase your sensation of warmth, causing you to underestimate the extra strain on your heart in the cold. Instead, sip some hot cocoa: It contains compounds that lower your blood pressure enough to cut your heart attack risk 10%.
Baby your arteries with D!
During winter’s short days, your vitamin D level can dip— a danger because people with the least D are 52% more likely to have cardiovascular disease, reveals recent research. “Vitamin D prevents inflammation in the arteries and improves their function,” says Dr. Sharma. Ask your doctor to test your vitamin D level. In the meantime, take a daily supplement with at least 600 IU of vitamin D-3, the most absorbable form.