Heart Health in Winter: A Guide to Navigating the Cold for a Resilient Heart

By Dr. Punish Sadana in Cardiac Sciences

Jan 31 , 2024 | 3 min read

As the temperature plummets, our cardiovascular system adjusts to maintain optimal body warmth. Some effects it has on health health include:

  • Vascular constriction and blood pressure increase: Cold temperatures prompt blood vessels to constrict, leading to an elevation in blood pressure. This increased workload on the heart can pose challenges, especially for individuals with existing heart conditions.
  • Heightened risk for cardiovascular events: The combination of cold-induced vasoconstriction and increased blood pressure may elevate the risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks or strokes, particularly in vulnerable populations.
  • Stress on the cardiovascular system: Winter conditions place added stress on the cardiovascular system as it works harder to maintain optimal body warmth. Individuals with heart conditions may experience increased strain, necessitating adjustments in lifestyle and dietary habits.
  • Reduced blood circulation to extremities: The body prioritizes blood flow to vital organs in cold weather, potentially leading to decreased circulation in extremities. This can contribute to issues such as cold hands and feet, impacting individuals with conditions like Raynaud's disease.
  • Increased vulnerability for individuals with heart conditions: Winter poses unique challenges for individuals with pre-existing heart conditions. Cold-induced stress, combined with other winter factors, underscores the importance of proactive measures to support heart health, including lifestyle adaptations and nutritional considerations.

Complications of Heart Diseases

Individuals with heart conditions face heightened risks during winter. Cold weather can strain the heart as it works harder to maintain body temperature. Additionally, respiratory infections, prevalent in winter, can exacerbate cardiovascular issues. Therefore, a heart-healthy winter diet becomes a proactive measure in minimizing complications.

How to Take Care of Your Heart in Winters?

We generally have hot and hearty meals in winter, which helps keep us warm. Moreover, being warm helps keep our immune system strong so our body can fight against winter illness. As a priority, you must have all the seasonal vegetables and fruits to keep yourself healthy:

  • Beetroot
  • Cabbage
  • Capsicum
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet potato
  • Broccoli

Have a Balanced Sleep Pattern

Getting good quality, balanced sleep is really important for every individual's mental and physical health. However, poor sleep contributes to various health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and high blood pressure. Every adult needs 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep every night.

Indulge in Regular Physical Activity

Exercising is an important physical activity that helps keep your body warm and heart healthy. But sticking to your exercise routine is really tough during winter. Still, it is recommended to everyone- they should do at least 150 minutes of exercise every week to have a happy heart. Exercising is important for every season and not just winter. Go for at least 30 minutes of walking every day, starting after sunrise. Wear a sweater, jacket, muffler and cap. Be consistent with your exercise. If you do not like being outdoors, do it indoors.

Protect Yourself from Flu or Infections

The flu and infections spread primarily during winter and can lead to serious health issues; therefore, you must take good care to avoid such health issues. Moreover, people with existing heart conditions are at a higher risk, so we recommend you take extra precautions. Dress warmly when going outside in cold weather- the body can lose heat quickly when it's cold and wet, which can put extra stress on the heart.

Always Listen to the Heart Warnings and Symptoms

If you have unbearable or severe chest pain in winter and you also find it radiating to your neck, arm, or shoulders, these can be the symptoms of a heart attack. Aside from these symptoms, men and women can experience different symptoms. For example, men may experience dizziness and nausea, while women may experience fatigue and dizziness. Always consult your cardiologist about how best to take care of your heart.

Manage Stress

Stress can take a toll on your heart, so it's important to find ways to manage it. Some effective stress management techniques include exercising, deep breathing, meditation, and yoga.

Don't Smoke or Use Tobacco

Smoking and using tobacco can damage your heart and blood vessels. It's important to stop smoking if you are addicted to it.