Heart disease and strokes claim the lives of hundreds more people during the winter months, according to the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the BHF said: “The figures show there is a clear pattern of a higher number of deaths from cardiovascular disease during this time of year. That’s why it is particularly important that people living with heart conditions are prepared and keep warm during the winter.”
This week the charity called on the elderly and heart patients to “look after their health and keep warm”, because as the cold sets in an additional 600 people die each week from heart disease and strokes between December and March across England and Wales — a 23 per cent increase compared to the rest of the year.
While it is not exactly clear why this rise in heart attacks and strokes appears, it is believed that low temperatures can increase the risk of developing clots, leading to heart attack and stroke. The cold can also affect the heart by increasing heart rate and blood pressure. The heart also has to work harder to keep the body warm.
“We are funding research which will hopefully help us identify the mechanisms that cause more heart attacks and strokes during cold weather,” said Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the BHF.
However, instead of waiting for the results of this research there are a few things you can do to bolster your immune system during the winter months and protect your heart at the same time:
- Increase your vitamin D intake: The sunshine vitamin has been shown to have heart protective and immune-boosting benefits. Making sure that your vitamin D levels are topped-up during the winter months is essential to your overall health.
- Keep moving: Regular moderate exercise will increase blood circulation and help regulate your blood pressure.
- Watch what you eat: It’s normal to want to eat more comforting (carbohydrate and sugar-rich) foods when it is cold. However, gaining weight and being more sedentary won’t do your heart any favours. Stick to a healthy, balanced diet — ensuring that you get enough fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Stay hydrated: Sitting indoors with the heating on full blast and enjoying a glass of wine (or two) may feel nice and cozy, but it can dehydrate you very fast. A heart condition called cardiovascular shock, also known as cardiovascular insult, can occur when you have been dehydrated for long periods of time.
Here's to keeping your heart strong and healthy
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Heart disease and strokes claim more lives during the winter months, published online 16.02.16, westerndailypress.co.uk
Category: Cardiovascular Risks