Prevent Holiday Heart Attacks in the Winter

Dec 21 • 2015

The number of heart-related deaths is known to spike in the winter – especially right after the holiday season has ended. Colder temperatures have a negative impact on the heart and become especially dangerous when combined with physical activities like shoveling snow and playing winter sports.

One of the best ways to prevent heart attacks in the winter is to start out slow when doing any kind of physical activity. This includes taking part in sports like skiing or snowboarding as well as manual labor like shoveling. Your body has a hard time adjusting to abrupt changes, so when you start an activity, do it for 10 to 15 minutes and then allow yourself time to rest. If you don’t exercise often, this becomes even more important. If possible, check your pulse before going outside and stop when you notice your pulse rising.

When your body is cold, you may be tempted to drink coffee when you take a break inside in order to warm up. However, many people don’t realize that caffeine puts an added burden on the heart. Instead, wrap up in a blanket and allow your body to warm up naturally before returning to your outdoor activities. This way, your heart can focus on returning to its normal speed without any added factors.

Many people experience heart trouble during this time of year because of the amount and type of food and drink consumed. Between holiday parties, work functions, and time with family and friends, people tend to eat and drink more heavily during the holidays. This can lead to an unhealthy diet and weight gain that can have a negative impact on your heart health.

Another common cause of heart attacks after the holidays is a commitment to a new workout routine. Getting in shape is a popular New Year’s resolution, but many people don’t realize that diving in too quickly isn’t good for your health. Your body has to be prepared to handle whatever exercise you choose to do, so speak with your doctor before you begin a new fitness program. Make sure you understand any risk factors you may have for heart disease and develop a schedule that allows you to start out slow. Not only is this better for your body, but it will also prevent you from becoming burnt out and increase your chances of sticking with your resolution long term.

Throughout the holiday season, remember that moderation is key in everything you do, from how you fill your plate to the kind of workouts you choose, especially when you’re outside in chillier temperatures. Work with your doctor to identify any specific risk factors you may have and what things you can do to prevent a winter heart attack.