Those with heart disease and other cardiovascular problems must be extra aware of the additional risks of cold weather which include an increased risk of heart attack and chest pain. Elderly people and young children in particular are also at a risk of heart issues during very cold weather. The main danger of cold weather for those with heart disease and others is the risk of hypothermia.
Hypothermia is a dangerous condition for those with heart disease
Hypothermia occurs when the body’s temperature drops below 95 F, and the body cannot create enough heat energy to keep it at a normal temperature. Elderly people and children may be less aware that they are in danger of hypothermia than others. There are deaths from hypothermia every year, and most of the deaths related to hypothermia are caused by heart failure.
Cold weather can increase heart attack risk for those with heart disease
Science has not found the exact reason why, but cold weather can increase heart attack risk for those with heart disease and even for healthy people. The increased risk is thought to be the result of increased exertion on the heart. People who do strenuous work during cold weather such as shoveling or other extreme physical exertion may be putting extra stress on their heart. There are other factors that may be involved in the increased risk of a heart attack during cold weather such as hormonal signals.
Wear several layers of clothing during cold weather
Wearing several layers of clothing, staying outside only for minimal amounts of time, and wearing a scarf and gloves can protect a person from hypothermia. Those who are susceptible to cold weather, such as those with heart disease, the elderly and children should avoid going outside altogether in dangerously cold weather. Those with heart disease should also exercise more caution than others and be sure to bundle up even in moderately cold weather.
Those with heart disease should watch for the symptoms of a heart attack in cold weather
Those with heart disease as well as healthy people should know the symptoms of a heart attack and call 911 if they experience any of these symptoms during cold weather. Symptoms may include chest pain or discomfort, difficulty breathing, pain in the arms, jaw, or stomach, cold sweats, nausea, and dizziness.