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Frosty times: what not only cardiac patients should pay attention to in winter
People with heart problems are at increased risk of overloading or even having a heart attack in the cold. Therefore, you should avoid too much effort in winter. But that does not mean that you have to curl up at home in freezing temperatures. A doctor explains which complaints and alarm signals make it critical.
Increased health risks in the cold
It has long been known that low temperatures can pose a health hazard. Heart patients in particular should avoid excessive activities, such as shoveling snow. Because the combination of cold and exertion can sometimes trigger a heart attack. An expert from the University Heart Center Freiburg-Bad Krozingen explains what not only cardiac patients should pay attention to in winter.
In the cold, the risk of people with heart problems increasing quickly, or even getting a heart attack, increases. The Freiburg University Clinic points this out in a communication.
"Cold combined with heavy physical exertion can be life-threatening, especially for a damaged heart," explains Professor Dr. Franz-Josef Neumann, Medical Director of the Clinic for Cardiology and Angiology II at the University Heart Center Freiburg-Bad Krozingen.
The blood vessels contract reflexively at low temperatures. The nose, fingers and feet become cold. But the area of the body that protects the organs must remain warm, even if the vessels are placed close together.
The result: The heart must now pump the blood into the vascular system against increased resistance, which can also result in increased blood pressure.
Avoid physical strain at freezing temperatures
It becomes particularly critical when people with heart problems are physically difficult to do, such as shoveling snow, shoveling the snow-covered car or trudging through deep snow.
These efforts are typical triggers for an overload of the heart muscle in winter temperatures. They can lead to an angina pectoris attack, a heart attack or, in the worst case, sudden cardiac death.
Therefore, people with heart problems should avoid strenuous efforts in freezing temperatures.
Alarm signals can include sudden shortness of breath, pain, burning, or a feeling of pressure in the chest. The cardiologist advises these symptoms: "Stop working immediately and call the emergency doctor if the symptoms persist."
In the case of complaints, not only heart patients should see a doctor
Even if the symptoms disappear, Professor Neumann recommends going to the doctor.
It is a warning sign if a healthy person has difficulty breathing or chest pain in the cold.
This should prompt him to have the heart cleared up thoroughly. "They can be an indication of an undetected heart disease," says Professor Neumann.
Exercise, lots of sun and a healthy diet
But that does not mean that you have to curl up at home in freezing temperatures. "On the contrary," says Professor Neumann, "regular exercise and good physical fitness are some of the most effective ways to prevent cardiovascular diseases."
You should also take every opportunity to go outside when the sun is shining. Because that also releases happiness hormones that are good for the heart.
And not only people with high blood pressure should pay attention to a vitamin-rich diet in winter to stay healthy.
The specialist advises the following rules: First, you should dress warmly before leaving the house. Gloves and hats are especially important.
Secondly, it is advisable to give the heart time so that it can adapt to the cold and the exertion. So first walk a few steps and then slowly start working outdoors.
Anyone who needs medication for heart or blood pressure problems should take it before leaving the house in winter. Patients with high blood pressure should also check them regularly over the very cold winter months.
Extreme cold means temperatures below minus five degrees Celsius. On very cold days or in smog weather conditions that put a particularly heavy load on the heart, there are many options for people with heart problems to do sports anyway.
For example, Professor Neumann recommends one of the many cardio sports groups, swimming or practicing on the exercise bike.
The rule applies here: the pulse should increase, but only so far that one can still talk, for example, while running. "Cardiac patients should exercise moderately all year round," advises the cardiologist. "Those who practice like this are well prepared for winter." (Ad)