Warming Your Heart to the Winter.

Cold weather tips for people with cardiovascular disease.

Warming Your Heart To The Winter.
Healthy Heart | Apr. 6, 2023

There’s a chill in the air and welcoming, muted sunshine… for many of us the onset of colder temperatures mean more outdoor winter activities with plenty of lazy, cozy days thrown in for good measure. In terms of health, we usually take precautions against common seasonal illnesses like the flu or a sore throat.  While respiratory and viral infections are common during the winter,  did you know that a drop in temperature can have an impact on your heart too? We don’t usually connect the dots between heart health and low temperatures – but this is an interesting correlation that our bodies need to listen to!

Cold weather can affect heart health in a number of ways, more so when you already have a preexisting cardiovascular condition. A drop in temperature can cause blood vessels to constrict, increasing the load on your heart to pump blood and supply it through the body.  This can elevate your blood pressure and affect cardiovascular response. Studies also suggest that environmental pollution factors may be higher in the winter months which may lead to an increase in cardiovascular events. Coronary artery constriction, also often caused by cold weather, may cause angina pain as well. However, you can take heart in the fact that whether you are dealing with a chronic heart condition or generally keeping tabs on your health this winter, a few basic precautions and technological aids can help you beat the heart-related winter blues!

Here’s a checklist to help protect your heart better during the chilly, winter months:

Stay active, but don’t overexert.

Weather affects our inclination to exercise in different ways – some of us get more inclined to staying cozy and cutting down on physical activity, others find the weather invigorating and often push themselves a little harder! The key is balance. While staying active is good for your heart health, make sure you avoid overly strenuous activities in chilly temps if you have a heart condition, and take periodic breaks so as to not over-stress your heart. If you are exercising outdoors or during the cooler parts of the day, remember to dress in a weather-appropriate way with layers and keep your hands and feet warm. If you have a preexisting condition like CVD or diabetes, make sure you speak to your doctor about safe levels of physical activity in the cold, unique to your case.


Balance meals every day, for long-term heart health.

Buffer up your body from the inside out with nutritious balanced meals that are heart-healthy – such as those full of whole grains, veggies and fruits, nuts and seafood if you are a non-vegetarian, those which are low on refined carbs and trans fat. Furthermore, a healthy diet also has a positive impact on your immunity levels, helping keep seasonal illnesses like flu at bay, which can also affect heart function and rate. Ensure that you take your flu shot before the onset of winter as well!

Keep a check, and track with tech.

A drop in fahrenheit, means a rise in vigilance! Keep regular check of your health markers like blood pressure, as well as blood sugar, Vitamin D and cholesterol levels, which affect cardiovascular health. For a little added heart-health help, when living with a chronic condition like arrhythmia, advancements in healthcare technology such as insertable cardiac monitors and remote monitors can help mitigate some of the risk and stress for you. These devices, which detect the smallest fluctuation in your cardiac activity and record and store all your data, help you and your doctors monitor your heart health and enable timely intervention if required.

Practice self care, for matters of the heart.

While you take frequent breaks to rest your body, pay attention to emotional stress as well. Stress can adversely impact heart health in a number of ways, such as raising blood pressure and affecting cholesterol levels. Chronic stress may also lead to harmful habits such as disturbance in sleep patterns, resistance to physical activity and an unhealthy diet. Take the time to check in with your mental health and lean on your support systems when required.

When the weather conditions are harsh outside, be kinder to your body and more attentive to physical cues, especially when managing chronic health conditions. While working on heart health is a constant come snow or sunshine, warm up to a few basic precautions to help keep you and your heart safe from the impact of seasonal changes.

Disclaimer: The information mentioned in this document is only suggestive/for patient education and shall not be considered as a substitute for doctor’s advice or recommendations from Abbott. Please consult your doctor for more information.