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Insurance Article

5 Ways to Protect Your Heart This Winter

August 16 2016
Get your winter wear out

Winter is the time of the year when the heart is at maximum risk. According to a research conducted at the Heart Institute at Good Samaritan Hospital, Los Angeles, the overall incidence of heart attack during winter is 26-36% higher, when compared to summer.

People with existing heart problems have a higher risk from cold weather and need to take precautions. However, even healthy individuals should take special heed during winter. Here are 5 ways in which you can protect your heart this winter:

1. Stay warm at all times

Low temperatures cause blood vessels to constrict, thereby increasing blood pressure. According to estimates of British researchers, for every 1 degree Celsius drop in the temperature, 200 more heart attacks occur daily among men and women, in the two weeks to one-month window following the fluctuation.

Instead of wearing thick clothes, opt for thin layers of breathable fabric. Layers provide insulation by trapping warm air between them.

2. Warm up before strenuous activities

When you perform strenuous activities in cold weather, it increases the load on the heart. Inhaling cold air further increases the workload.

Light exercise for 5-10 minutes to warm up, such as a slow walk, and stretching, before strenuous activities can help prevent injury and strain on your heart. Take frequent breaks and reduce the workload for added precaution.

Light exercise and stretching is essential

3. Get sufficient sunlight

Our body needs sunlight to produce vitamin D. In winters, when the days are shorter, people are generally less exposed to the sun. Not getting enough sunlight is thought to play a major role in heart disease and high blood pressure.

A review article in the journal Circulation reported that people with heart disease faced 30-50% higher rates of severe cardiovascular disease or death, when sun-deprived. During the winter months, "there is a change in the ratio of daylight hours to dark hours, which changes the hormonal balance, and the hormones involved, such as cortisol, can lower the threshold for a cardiovascular event," explains Stephen P. Glasser, MD, a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Alabama.

4. Tone down the stress

Stress increases blood pressure and puts unnecessary strain on the heart. Especially during winter, when the heart is already at a higher risk, it is crucial to maintain stress levels, not just for the heart, but for your overall health as well.

The holiday season witnesses an increased indulgence in food, drink and merrymaking, which also increases the stress on the heart.

5. Spot the signs

It is always handy to know how a heart attack presents itself. Even if you are unsure about it being a heart attack, have yourself checked by a qualified physician. Effective bystander CPR, too, can be crucial in saving lives.

Healthy eating habits and staying active is the cornerstone of a healthy heart. As a precautionary measure, opt for health insurance to financially safeguard your health.

As the English poet, Leigh Hunt once said, "The groundwork of all happiness is health."

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