How to Protect Your Heart this Winter

January 9, 2023
How to Protect Your Heart this Winter

Why your heart is at risk when temps dip – and how to keep it healthier.

Winter is a season marked by a higher incidence of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems, especially in locations where the weather gets cold and snowy. Knowing what precautions you need to take to keep your heart healthy, as well as the warning signs of a heart attack, are especially important at this time of year.

Here are some things that can affect your heart during the winter:

  • Cold – When the temperature drops, your blood vessels and arteries narrow, restricting the amount of blood that flows through them. This decreases the supply of oxygen-rich blood to your heart and makes your heart pump harder and faster to get blood through those narrowed passageways, increasing your heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Strenuous activity – Strenuous activities you may perform during the winter place increased stress on your heart. Shoveling, pushing your car out of the snow or even walking briskly against a strong wind can increase your heart's demand for oxygen. Add that to the additional stress already placed on your heart from the cold and that can be a recipe for disaster.
  • Changes to your routine – Even if you're committed to living a healthy lifestyle, it can be difficult to eat healthy or stick to your exercise routine during the winter months. More demands on your time during the holiday season, dreary days that keep you from heading to the gym and added stress that can lead you to overindulge in unhealthy food can all negatively affect your heart health.

Here are 5 ways to protect your heart this winter:

  1. Dress warmly when temps dip, but wear layers to avoid getting overheated
  2. Take frequent breaks when performing strenuous activities like shoveling
  3. Stay hydrated (dehydration can increase your heart rate)
  4. Don't drink alcohol if you'll be out in the cold
  5. Watch for these warning signs of a heart attack:
    • Pain or discomfort in your chest
    • Pain in your jaw, neck, back, arm or shoulder
    • Dizziness or lightheadedness
    • Shortness of breath
    • Nausea or vomiting

Know Your Heart Age

Is Your Heart 10 Years Older Than You?

Find out in only 5 minutes

  • Compare your actual age to your heart's biological age
  • Calculate your 10-year risk of developing cardiovascular disease
  • If you are younger than 60, you will also learn your 30-year risk of CVD
  • Prioritize your most harmful cardiovascular risk factors
  • Learn which risk factors you can change by talking with your doctor
  • Easily make an appointment if you are at risk

Learn Your Heart Age

When finished, print & share your Result Report with your doctor, this report is not stored in eGuthrie.


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Date Last Reviewed: November 28, 2018

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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