Winter, cold, and the risk for heart disease

The cold air and furious winds of winter do much more than cause runny noses and chapped lips.

The dip in temperature over the winter months can directly affect the heart and bring about symptoms of heart disease, especially during strenuous activities.

Cardiologists note that this is a time of year that can put significant strain on the heart, especially for those who might not know they are at-risk for heart disease or are just beginning to show symptoms.

And the temperatures do not need to approach artic levels for routine physical activities, like shoveling or even walking through wet snow, to become potentially hazardous to health.

It’s these activities and others that can cause symptoms related to underlying heart disease.

Why is it worse in winter?

The low-light, chilly winter months send many seeking warmth indoors, leading to much more physical inactivity and an increased risk for heart disease.

Additionally, the external cold air delivers less oxygen to the blood, which in turn delivers less oxygenated blood to the heart, putting more strain on the heart when needed most.

Physicians urge everyone to consider their heart health in the winter, with moderate activity being key—not overexerting oneself, but also not remaining inactive.

Warning signs of heart disease

Paying attention to any potential heart disease symptoms is crucial.

Symptoms can easily manifest this time of year and can become increasingly severe, potentially leading to a heart attack.

Symptoms of heart disease:

  • Chest pain/discomfort/heaviness
  • Discomfort in arms, jaw, back, neck and stomach
  • Nausea, lightheadedness and sweating
  • Shortness of breath