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Warm Hands, Warm Heart


Be kind to your heart. Cold weather puts immense strain on the heart. Low temperatures cause your blood vessels and arteries to narrow, restricting blood flow and reducing oxygen to the heart.

Your heart must pump harder to circulate blood through the constricted blood vessels. As a result, your blood pressure and your heart rate increase.

A sudden spike in blood pressure – especially when paired with outdoor exertion, such as shoveling a snowy sidewalk – can cause serious issues such as:

  • Unstable chest pain
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

Hypothermia, which is when your body temperature drops dangerously low – below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. When this happens, your heart, nervous system, and other organs cannot work properly. If left untreated, hypothermia can lead to heart and respiratory system failure and death.

Symptoms of moderate to severe hypothermia include:

  • A lot of shivering or a halt in shivering
  • Lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Weak pulse
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Drowsiness

Your body fights hypothermia by keeping your core as warm as possible. This causes a lack of circulation, especially to your body’s extremities like fingers and toes, which can result in frostbite.

To help avoid any heart or circulatory system risks this winter, be sure to:

  • Dress warmly. Although hypothermia usually takes longer to overtake the body, frostbite can occur within minutes. Be sure to cover your head, ears, fingers, and feet properly.
  • Avoid over-exertion. Take frequent rest breaks while performing physical activities outside.
  • Stick to non-alcoholic beverages. Alcohol may make you feel misleadingly warm, causing you to underestimate your body’s actual temperature and making you more susceptible to hypothermia.

If you or a loved one has heart disease, take extra measures to ensure you have a safe winter, and always seek medical attention or a doctor’s advice if you feel at risk of any of the cold weather effects.


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