Today’s cold snap serves as a chilling reminder that winter will soon be upon us. Those with cardiac conditions will need to observe some simple rules during these colder months to keep healthy and stay safe. This is especially important in patients with coronary artery disease who may have limitations in general to exercise tolerance. The cold weather may increase the heart’s demand, and therefore these limitations. Below are some suggestions on how to keep your heart healthy during these cold months:
- Keep work that requires extreme exertion to a minimum. For example, shoveling snow may result in a dramatic increase in both blood pressure and heart rate. This is not ideal for someone who may have had coronary artery disease, bypass surgery, or stent placements. The extra strain on the heart in the cold weather may result in an increased oxygen demand resulting in symptoms of angina or chest pains. My advice is to “take it easy” on the outdoor activities during the winter months.
- Get your flu shot. Patients with coronary artery disease who get the flu are at increased risk for complications, morbidity, and mortality. Flu shots are easy to get, either from your primary care physician or local pharmacy.
- Make sure you keep warm. Low body temperature may result in confusion, sleepiness, and lack of coordination. If you feel any of these symptoms, get inside and warm up. Hypothermia may be dangerous if not caught early!
- Check your pill bottle. Sometimes inclement weather may make it difficult to travel, especially to the pharmacy. Make sure you are updated on your medication refills and pill counts.
Finally, I hope you have a wonderful winter season, stay safe and warm!TAPP to read more.
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