Winter Risks: How Cold Weather Affects Your Heart


December ushers in Christmas music, holiday spirit, and colder temperatures. But these chilly dips may also bring cardiovascular issues with them. Are you aware of how cold weather affects your heart? Icy winds, cold rain, and lower atmospheric pressure can cause your body heat to drop. And, this puts extra stress on your body—especially your cardiovascular system. At Cardiovascular Institute of the South, we want patients to understand how cold weather can impact cardiovascular health and what they can do to better protect themselves. Learn what steps you can take toward a healthier, happier holiday season!

Heart Issues Can Spike as the Temperature Drops

For those with preexisting heart conditions, the winter weather can cause your issues to flare up. Patients 65 years and older are also at greater risk for these health concerns. As the temperature drops, your blood vessels constrict and become more narrow. This causes your heart to work harder to pump blood throughout the body to your organs and muscles. It can also lead to faster heart rates, thicker blood, and higher blood pressure. Studies have also shown that your white blood cell count may increase during the winter, which can decrease the oxygen transported throughout the body. These changes facilitate conditions for a heightened risk of heart attack or stroke.

Since colder temperatures put added strain on your heart, it is important to be aware of signs that may point to cardiovascular distress. Notice if you have feelings of nausea, dizziness, or shortness of breath. Chest pain, fatigue, flu-like complications, and fluttering feelings in the chest are all possible signs, too. Get in touch with your cardiologist before a problem arises to protect your heart health.

How to Stay Well in the Winter Cold

There are simple steps that you can take to maintain a healthy heart during the winter. Start by layering up! Warm clothing including scarves, plush socks, jackets, and blankets promotes better circulation. And if you are spending extra time outdoors, choose moisture-wicking and water-resistant clothing options. Pair this with warm, heart-healthy foods and drinks to raise your temperature from the inside out. Exercise can also keep your immune system strong despite the cold. In addition, indoor exercises like yoga, stretching, and strength-building workouts can help to burn calories without straining your body in the cold outdoor temperatures. 

For those with established cardiovascular issues, make sure to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists at the Cardiovascular Institute of the South if you have concerns about your health during the winter. Our clinics provide a wide range of services, from diagnostic testing to individualized management solutions. We can help you to better understand how the cold weather affects your cardiovascular system and determine the best treatment plans for a healthier heart.

Worried About How Cold Weather Affects Your Heart? We Can Help!

Protect your heart health this winter. Schedule an appointment at your closest clinic location today. Or, request an appointment online through our patient portal. We look forward to working with you to improve your heart health. Let us help to keep the season bright with good health.

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CIS Staff

Written by CIS Staff