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. Conditions such as Heart Attack and Congestive Heart Failure are especially known to flare up during the cold months.
There are several things during the colder time of year that put us at greater risk for cardiac issues:
Factors that 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.
But, take heart, there are steps we can take to be prepared and minimize the threat to our cardiac health.
Factors that decrease cardiac risk:
- Be aware of the signs and symptoms
- Plan 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)
- Set up medication reminders
- Provide healthy food options- low sodium, low sugar, and low fat
- Provide options for exercise indoors
- Take a CPR class
- Stay in touch with your health care team
- Monitor your weight and blood pressure faithfully
Be proactive! Check out this mechanical blood pressure cuff that I recommend, to monitor yourself at home.
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. Can you picture this posted on the refrigerator as a helpful reminder? 🙂 Available on my Premium Resources Page, along with 40+ 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?