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Heart Health

Winterize your heart health

November 1, 2022

Take steps to thwart the seasonal challenges that can jeopardize your heart.

photo of a mature woman standing next to an indoor swimming pool, wearing a swimsuit, a bathing cap, and goggles

Are you preparing for winter? Perhaps you’re retrieving heavy coats from their summer slumber, getting a check-up for your home’s furnace, and stocking up on road salt for snowy days. You might also add your health to the list of items to be "winterized," especially your heart, which faces increased risks during the winter. In addition to the basics — eating a healthy diet, doing moderate-intensity exercise (such as brisk walking) for at least 150 minutes per week, and getting enough sleep (seven to nine hours per night) — take the following steps to protect your heart.

Stay up-to-date on vaccinations

Make sure you get this year’s influenza (flu) shot and any recommended COVID-19 vaccinations or boosters. Flu and COVID surge in the winter, and both can harm your heart. "You can develop cardiovascular problems after COVID, even if you don’t have any heart disease risk factors," says Dr. Deepak Bhatt, a cardiologist and editor in chief of the Harvard Heart Letter. "And while the flu increases your risk for a heart attack, our research has shown that getting a flu shot is associated with significantly reduced heart attack risks — as much as 45%."

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About the Author

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Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

Heidi Godman is the executive editor of the Harvard Health Letter. Before coming to the Health Letter, she was an award-winning television news anchor and medical reporter for 25 years. Heidi was named a journalism fellow … See Full Bio
View all posts by Heidi Godman


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