This (or something close) was the title of a headline on the Yahoo front page for the last few days. I found it most interesting yesterday when the city of Portland, Oregon was blasted with an unexpected snowstorm that left many stranded, many stuck and many forced to walk for miles in heels or less. I, myself, had to walk a half-mile in cute ballet flats without a hat or gloves to reach a friend’s house before re-attempting the drive several hours later and I heard of many others doing the same.
I can see why more heart attacks happen in the winter.
Watching people trudging up slippery slopes in dress shoes with the bags, briefcases and purses from their cars made me reconsider the title of this article. I consider myself in pretty decent shape and even I was out of breath and panting by the time I collapsed on my girlfriend’s front door. We are a hilly city surrounded by mountains which made it worse.
The article states that cold weather constricts (tightens) blood vessels making it more difficult for oxygen in the blood to accurately pump to both the body and heart itself. It’s a natural reaction to the cold in an effort to conserve energy and heat while protecting the vital organs. Makes sense unless you are already at risk for a heart attack, then you need to find some warmth.
The article goes on to say combining this tightening with outdoor strenuous activity such as walking away from a stranded car, shoveling snow or cross country skiing further increases the risk.
Many people know the most common symptoms of a heart attack to include pain or crushing sensation in the chest, pain or numbness down the left arm or up into the neck and jaw, shortness of breath, nausea and/or sweating. Women are more likely to have tightness in their chest, feel short of breath, fatigued or dizzy, and anxiety. Be aware not to blow this off as feeling stressed or ‘out-of-shape.’ Get checked out ASAP.
Don’t be a weekend warrior and over exert yourself. Warm up first before doing any outdoor physical activity, especially if it’s cold outside. Dress accordingly and keep extra supplies in your car if you live in a winter-prone city.