SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota, Jan. 29, 2019 — With bitter cold descending on the Dakotas and colder temperatures yet to come throughout the Midwest, the American Heart Association is reminding people that winter weather and common activities can increase a person’s risk of a heart attack. The combination of colder temperatures and physical exertion increases the heart’s workload.
Heart-related incidents and deaths occur more often in winter.
People who are outdoors in cold weather should avoid sudden exertion, such as lifting a heavy shovel packed with snow, or a large bag of salt or snow melt. Even just walking through heavy, wet snow or snow drifts can strain the heart because most people are not conditioned to the physical stress of simple activities when temperatures drop.
Prepare for the outdoors, even if it is just a few minutes of exposure to the cold weather, by wearing layers of clothing. Air is trapped between layers, forming a protective insulation for your body. Also, wear a hat or head scarf as body heat can be lost through the head, and ears are especially prone to frostbite. Wear gloves or mittens on your hands and thick socks on your feet as hands and feet also tend to lose heat rapidly. Always change out of wet clothing.
Dressing improperly can lead to hypothermia, a potentially deadly problem that means the body temperature has fallen below 95 degrees. It occurs when your body cannot produce enough energy to keep the internal body temperature warm enough.
Children and the elderly are at special risk in winter weather as well as people with a history of heart-related problems.
Tips for heart-safe snow shoveling and outdoor activities:
Before heading outdoors, learn the common signs of a heart-attack. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense — like those seen on television — but most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected are unsure what is happening and wait too long before getting help.
Signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:
Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
If signs are present, call 911. Local Emergency Medical Services have expert technicians with equipment designed to save lives. An ambulance is safer than a car ride, and in an ambulance, you will receive emergency care sooner, decreasing the chances of heart damage. Faster treatment means a faster recovery.
For more information, visit www.heart.org.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country.
For Media Inquiries:
Jamie Schneider; 520-490-3054; [email protected]
For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)
heart.org and strokeassociation.org