Parts of the country are stuck in the cold, dull days of winter, often with freezing temperatures accompanied by snow and ice. It’s tough on the soul and hard on the heart, too. As Consumer Reports explains, winter weather can bring an increased risk of a heart attack.
We’ve all heard the stories of how shoveling snow can increase your risk of a heart attack. And recent research shows that falling temperatures can contribute to higher odds of an attack even if you’re not clearing a path from your driveway.
Cold weather can increase blood pressure. Although scientists aren’t sure why it can also raise cholesterol levels. Those are two key risk factors for a heart attack.
And a number of other factors can also raise your risk of heart attack, including being 65 or older, or having heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure.
One key strategy for protecting your heart during the winter is to stay warm. As you get older, your sense of how cold you are may diminish, so it’s important to dress in loose layers and don’t forget a hat and gloves. And because your risk for a heart attack is greater in the winter, stay alert to the often subtle signs that you might be having one.
For men, chest pain is the No. 1 symptom of a heart attack, but not the only one. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and upper-body pain in the arms, back, shoulders, neck, jaw, or abdomen.
Signs of a heart attack for a woman can be different. -While chest pain is a key symptom for women too, other prominent signs include overwhelming fatigue, shortness of breath, and nausea.
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If you suspect you’re having a heart attack, call 911 immediately. And don’t think about driving yourself to the hospital. Trained paramedics can offer lifesaving help while getting you to a hospital faster.
Consumer Reports also says that before you go outside to start shoveling snow, try some light physical activity to warm up, like running in place.