6 reasons why heart attack risk rises in winter, and how to avoid it

High blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks due to cold weather are common. However, these can be avoided by following simple steps.
Heart attack in winter
Find out why heart attack cases may rise in winter. Image courtesy: Freepik
Anjuri Nayar Singh Published: 4 Feb 2024, 10:15 pm IST
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Heart attack cases are on a rise globally. Medical experts all over the world claim that people are more susceptible to heart ailments during the winter season. There are multiple reasons and factors why heart attack cases rise in winter, but following certain lifestyle tips can help you mitigate the risk.

Health Shots got in touch with cardiologist Dr. Komal Pawar, who tells us why heart attack cases increase in winter and how to maintain heart health.

Is it possible to have a heart attack due to cold weather?

The winter season can have a direct impact on the way our body functions. It can constrict blood vessels and coronary arteries, which directly impacts how blood flows across the body. In winter, people also engage less in physical activities due to the low temperature. Besides, the chilly season can take a toll on heart health in many ways. Read on to find out!

A woman getting blood pressure checked
The cold weather can lead to an increase in blood pressure. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

1. Increase in blood pressure

Cold weather can lead to a higher blood pressure, and other heart health related risks, notes a study published in Experimental Physiology. The chances of heart attacks in the cold weather is much more compared to any other time. “In the cold, there is a constriction of blood vessels, and this increases blood pressure. In turn, this puts extra strain on the heart. Especially, if you have any pre-existing cardiovascular conditions, this extra stress and pressure on the heart can lead to a heart attack,” explains Dr Pawar.

2. The body can get exhausted

In the cold weather, the body needs to put a lot of effort to maintain the right  temperature. While doing this, it takes away the energy and resources from other systems such as the cardiovascular system. This is what makes your heart health suffer, explains Dr Pawar.

3. More frequency of strokes

A study published in Heart Rhythm points to the fact that strokes due to blood clots, experienced by patients with atrial fibrillation, happens the most during the winter.

4. Respiratory infections

During the winter, people have more respiratory infections, such as influenza and pneumonia. “These respiratory diseases leads to more strain on the heart. So if you already have compromised cardiovascular health, this can make your condition worse. Also, the inflammatory response which are caused by the infections may result in the development of arterial plaques, increasing the risk of a heart attack,” says Dr Pawar.

Also Read: Warning signs your artery is blocked: Here’s how to prevent heart attack

5. Lifestyle choices

We make many lifestyle changes in the winter time, and this can lead to poor heart health as well. We reduce our physical activity , and end up putting on weight. There is also an overall decrease in cardiovascular fitness, explains Dr Pawar, adding, “The holidays also put stress on our bodies and hearts, plus our diets go for a six. All this can lead to elevated blood pressure and increased cholesterol levels, both of which are known risk factors for heart attacks.”

6. Less exposure to sunlight

We don’t have too much exposure to the sun during the winter months and this can cause a dip in vitamin D levels. This has a direct affect on your heat health and our chances to having a heart attack increase.

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How to avoid heart attack in winter?

There are ways to ensure good heart health even during the winter season.

1. Healthy lifestyle

If you already are suffering from heart diseases, you are at a much higher risk of a heart attack during this time. Therefore, it is important to make sure your lifestyle does not negatively affect your heart health. Sleep well, eat well and manage your stress efficiently during this time.

2. Seek prompt medical attention

Don’t take anything lightly. If you experience symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or fatigue is essential, as early intervention can significantly improve outcomes.

Also Read: 5 best supplements for heart health and why you need them

A woman dressed up for the winters
Stay cozied up in winters to prevent heart problems! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Keep warm

It is very important to make sure you are warm and well-covered up during the cold. Try to wear windproof and water proof covers that ensure that body heat is maintained. This will help you keep warm

4. Prevent, rather than treat

During the colder months, it is important to prevent falling sick as much as you can. Adopting proactive measures to ensure cardiovascular health can really help in reducing the incidence of heart attacks during the colder months.

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About the Author

Anjuri Nayar Singh has over 12 years of experience in writing for various topics including lifestyle, films, television and OTT. She also writes on art and culture, education and human interest stories. ...Read More

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