The colder months of the year are known to put us at increased risk of cardiac issues.
WT Ellis said, “It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.” Unfortunately, the cold Christmas air puts extra strain on the physical heart! Many studies have shown that cardiac issues leading to hospitalizations and even deaths, occur with greater frequency during the winter months (Science Daily, 2017). Conditions such as Heart Attack and Congestive Heart Failure are especially known to flare up during the cold months, causing increased need for cardiac care..
There are several things during the colder time of year that put us at greater risk for needing cardiac care:
Factors that may increase cardiac risk:
- Cold weather
- Pressure fronts- fog and clouds
- Decreased exercise and activity (take caution to not walk outside if it is too cold)
- Stress/ anxiety- holiday to do list, relational issues, missing a loved one
- Diet changes- increased sodium, fat, sugar
- Forgetting to take medication
- Right after getting an infection
It is important to know that during the winter, while flu and pneumonia are at their peak, the first 7 days after getting an infection we are at greater risk for cardiac issues (Roane, 2017).
But take heart; there are things we can do to be prepared and minimize the threat to our cardiac health.
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Factors that decrease cardiac risk:
- Being aware of the signs and symptoms
- Planning ahead for snow shoveling (get help, don’t do it yourself- if you are at risk. I knew a middle aged gentleman who had a heart attack and died after shoveling snow)
- Setting up medication reminders
- Providing healthy food options- low sodium, low sugar, and low fat
- Providing options for exercise indoors
- Taking a CPR class
- Staying in touch with your health care team
- Monitoring your weight and blood pressure faithfully
Be proactive! Check out this mechanical blood pressure cuff, to monitor yourself at home. (affiliate link)
Heres a link to a free vitals log to keep track of your blood pressure:
Be proactive and stay educated on the warning signs of cardiac issues:
Here is a sneak peek at a printable handout with risks, and signs and symptoms of heart attack and heart failure. Clinicians can edit and use for patient education. Available on my Individual or Premium Resources Page, along with 50+ other educational handouts for prevention and best care!
Let’s do everything we can to keep our patients and families healthy and OUT of the hospital this season! What do you do to keep your patients or self safe through the winter? Subscribe to the blog for a few printable freebies and tips and information on senior health care.