Winter And Your Heart Health: What You Should Know About Hypothermia

Winter can be a magical and joyous time of year full of glistening snow, family togetherness, and any number of wonderful traditions. However, winter can also be the time of year that is toughest on your body, particularly your cardiovascular health. If you have previously been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, you need to be especially careful during the long winter months to protect your cardiovascular health from the effects of the cold, harsh weather, particularly from hypothermia. If you know what you need to do to protect yourself, you will be better equipped to handle the months to come with your cardiovascular health intact. 

Understanding Hypothermia

Hypothermia occurs when your body temperature is reduced to dangerous levels that cause your body to essentially shut down. The temperature threshold for hypothermia is an internal temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit or less. 

Prolonged exposure to cold winter weather can easily cause hypothermia. If you do not wear proper protective gear such as gloves, hats, and thick warm clothing, much of your body heat can be lost through the skin when exposed to cold air. 

Cardiovascular Effects Of Hypothermia

When you suffer from cardiovascular and circulatory problems, you are at greater risk of unknowingly suffering from hypothermia during the cold winter months. This is particularly true as you get older and become elderly, due to changes in your circulatory system. 

The reason for this trend is that blood circulation and flow naturally reduces when the body is exposed to cold to preserve the vital organs at the cost of blood flow to the extremities. However, when you already suffer from cardiovascular health problems, your blood flow and circulation are already strained and reduced. This means that when exposed to cold, even less blood is circulated throughout the body, putting you at risk for dangerously low body temperatures. 

Avoiding Hypothermia

As such, you may not even be able to feel the effects of the cold on your body until well after you have entered a hypothermic state and are in danger of total heart failure. So, whether you feel cold or not when you step outside in the winter, be sure to bundle up and limit the amount of time you stay out in the cold. This will greatly reduce your chances of hypothermia.

Additionally, you should watch out for the signs of hypothermia so that you can get inside to warmer conditions if you begin to show symptoms. These symptoms include dizziness, shallow or difficult breathing, disorientation, extreme fatigue, and a loss of coordination.

If you begin to notice yourself feeling any of these symptoms when out in the cold weather,get inside and get warm immediately. If your condition does not improve within a short period of time, seek medical attention. 

When you have cardiovascular problems, you need to be particularly aware of the dangers that cold weather can bring. Hypothermia can sneak up on you if you are not aware of the risks and warning signs. So, pay attention and protect your health this winter.