Cold weather increases heart problems


by Johnny Archer

Posted on January 28, 2014 at 6:56 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 28 at 6:56 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – The extreme cold weather is not only a nuisance for many, but doctors say it can be bad for your heart.

“From the studies from the 1930’s onward – what we found cold weather always brings along with it an increased rate of heart attacks and strong and heart failure exacerbations,” Dr. Atul Chugh with the University of Louisville said.

Doctor Atul Chugh is the Director of Preventive Cardiology at the University of Louisville.

Chugh says there is a 20 to 40 percent increase in heart problems in the winter.

Doctors theorize the heart needs to work much harder in cold climates.

A sudden increase in work activity doesn’t help either.

Shoveling the snow can raise the risk of heart failure.

“Say you have a 62-year-old who already has plaque in one of their coronary arteries, which is a blood vessel that supplies to the heart. If I have that blood vessel clamped down that normally happens in the cold weather and if I give the heart more stress by having that patient shovel snow, going through activities that heart is not used to, that’s a perfect setup for that vessel to rupture causing a heart attack ,” Dr. Chugh said.

Dr. Chugh says there's ways to prevent these cardiovascular problems.

“If you’re not someone who goes to the gym 4 or 5 time a week, go ahead and take it easy when you’re going to shovel the snow. These are things that you’re going to have to do. But go ahead and do it in a moderate way in which you’re performing that activity 4 or 5 minutes at a time ,” he said.

Wearing layers including gloves and a hat will help prevent any other health related problems.

If it’s dangerously cold and you don’t have to go outside, it’s best to stay inside at home.