Avoiding winter heart attacks
Minimize risks with simple solutions such as preventing overexertion and preparing for cold temperatures.
As temperatures start to fall, your risk of a heart attack begins to climb. "Cold weather sometimes creates a perfect storm of risk factors for cardiovascular problems," says Dr. Randall Zusman, a cardiologist with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
Many of these risks stem from what Dr. Zusman calls a "mismatch between supply and demand." Cold weather can decrease the supply of oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle. And it can put you in situations that force your heart to work harder; as a result, your heart demands more oxygen-rich blood. Such a mismatch-a smaller supply of oxygen to the heart coupled with a greater demand for oxygen by the heart-sets you up for a heart attack.
Below, we summarize some of the many situations that can lead to heart attack during the colder months-and how to minimize them.