Is Cold Weather Bad for the Heart?

By raising blood pressure, cold temps can tax your heart, say top Cleveland Clinic cardio docs

The weather may influence heart attack risk. Heart attacks peak in winter, and the colder it gets outside, the greater the risk of having one. A recent observational study from England and Wales documented a 2 percent increase in the risk of heart attack for every 1°C (1.8°F) drop in temperature. The most vulnerable people included the elderly and those with a history of coronary heart disease.

How might the cold influence your heart? Exposure to cold temperatures causes increased blood pressure, which in turn results in an increased cardiac workload and an increased tendency for blood to clot. Fortunately, the solution is easy. If you have heart disease, stay indoors when it is very cold. If you must go out, bundle up in layers.  Next: Drink a glass of wine to your heart health? 

Excerpted from Heart 411: The Only Guide to Heart Health You’ll Ever Need, by Marc Gillinov, MD and Steven Nissen, MD (Three Rivers Press, 2012).

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