Tag Archives: Heart Health

How Cold Weather Affects Your Heart

Are you and your heart ready for the frigid depths of winter?

Cold Weather and SCA

Photo Courtesy: NBC News

Brrrrr! With great swaths of the country feeling the icy effects of January, now is the perfect time to make sure that you and your heart are staying warm this winter.

Winter can present its own special set of challenges and can be especially treacherous if you’re over 65, have already had a heart attack, or have been diagnosed with heart disease. Regardless of whether or not you have heart disease, though, taking care of your heart and body during bitterly cold months is a smart move.

Why is Winter So Hard on Your Heart?

Our bodies naturally react to cold environments by making certain physiological adjustments. Put another way, your body works harder when it’s cold. And that’s generally a good thing! The extra effort your body puts into staying warm protects your vital organs and helps maintain your core body temperature. However, while natural and necessary, these changes can be challenging — and perhaps even dangerous — for people with heart disease.

Heart Attacks are More Common in the Winter

Cold temperatures can cause your blood vessels to contract and your blood flow to speed up. In fact, that’s what helps keep you warm.

However, it may also cause your heart rate and blood pressure to increase. When this occurs, your heart is working significantly harder than it does under more temperate conditions. If you factor additional exertion like slogging through heavy snow or shoveling a snow-covered walkway into the equation, it could be a recipe for a heart attack.

“According to a study published in JAMA Cardiology in November, which analyzed information on about 274,000 people living in Sweden, the risk of having a heart attack was greatest on days when the temperature was below freezing. Another study, published in PLOS One in 2015, found up to a 31 percent increase in heart attacks in the coldest months of the year compared with the warmest” (Consumer Reports).

Risk of Stroke Increases in the Winter

If that’s not enough to make you head for the coat closet (or Florida), frosty temps can also increase the likelihood of blood clots which, in turn, increases the odds of suffering from a stroke or embolism.

Fortunately, many of the causes that are commonly believed to be behind the increased incidence of stroke during the colder months, whether infection, lack of sunlight, depression, or sedentary lifestyle, are preventable. Just remember to wash your hands, take your vitamin D, and get some exercise. If you think you may be suffering from depression, talk to your doctor!

Hypothermia Can Lead to Heart and Respiratory System Failure

When your body temperature dips below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, things get pretty ugly pretty fast. When this happens, hypothermia sets in and your heart, circulatory system, nervous system, and other organs cannot function properly.

Left untreated, hypothermia can result in death.

Symptoms of moderate to severe hypothermia include:

  • Shivering
  • Lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Weak pulse
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Unconsciousness

How to Protect Yourself from the Cold

Now that we’ve established that winter is a bleak and frozen landscape dotted with danger and peril, it’s time to offer a few fail-safe recommendations for staying warm and protecting your heart.

Keep Your Home Cozy

If you haven’t conducted a home energy audit, now may be the time. Look for (and seal) obvious air leaks, upgrade your insulation, and inspect your furnace and ventilation systems to make sure you’re not wasting your warmth. Then, crank up your furnace to a toasty 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stay Active Indoors

If you’re staying indoors because it’s just too cold outdoors, be sure to stay active! Move around at least once every hour and avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time. This gets the blood flowing and helps keep you warm.

Splurge on Some Tasty Tea

Go ahead and indulge a little. Just be smart about it! We recommend warm, wholesome meals and a nice cup of flavonoid-rich black or green tea.

“Short-term studies have shown that drinking tea may improve vascular reactivity—a measure of how well your blood vessels respond to physical or emotional stress. There’s also evidence that drinking either black or green tea may lower harmful LDL cholesterol levels” (Harvard Health Publishing).

Layer Up!

Not only is it like giving yourself a nice, warm hug, but wearing a number of thin layers can keep you warmer than one thick layer. Thin layers trap air and create a natural insulation barrier. And if you’ve never been called a hot head, we’re happy to do the honors. You can lose a ton of heat from your head, so don’t forget to don that stocking cap!

Shovel Smart

If you’re heading outside to clear a pathway, err on the side of caution. Let someone know what you’re up to so they can keep an eye on you, give yourself plenty of breaks, use an ergonomic snow shovel or snow pusher, avoid alcohol (which can make your body think it’s warm when it’s not), and above all else, listen to your body!


For more information about AEDs, CPR training, or First Aid certification, contact contact Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. We also welcome your emails; you can reach us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

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5 Strategies to Prevent Heart Disease

Protect Your Heart with These Heart-Healthy Tips

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. In 2017, approximately 630,000 Americans died from heart disease — that’s nearly 1 in every 4 deaths (Medical News Today). In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds! As advocates for CPR and AED training, heart health, and the prevention of sudden cardiac death, we find these statistics incredibly grim.

While you can’t control certain risk factors such as your age, family history, gender, race, or ethnicity, there are plenty of ways you can lead a heart-healthy lifestyle…and that’s what we’ll be focusing on this week.

5 Practical Ways You Can Prevent Heart Disease

#1 — Eat More Fiber (and Less Saturated Fat)

The iconic “Got Milk?” advertising campaign, which turned 25 this year, made drinking milk look downright sexy. But just because the decades-old campaign has decidedly more star power and cache than “Got Fiber?” or “Got Broccoli?” could ever hope for, that doesn’t mean they aren’t good ideas.

The American Heart Association recommends having a few meals without meat each week. By reducing your meat intake and upping your consumption of fruit, veggies, legumes, and whole grains, you’ll dramatically increase the amount of fiber in your diet while simultaneously reducing the number of saturated fats you ingest. It’s a win-win!

Yes, we realize that Thanksgiving is on the horizon and visions of turkey and cornbread and sausage stuffing are peppering your dreams. But we’re going to say that eating vegetarian meals (or, at the very least, meals with less meat) may help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. (You’ll find that it’s easier on your grocery bill, too!)

If the notion of walking an entirely vegetarian path is too daunting, start by incorporating a meal or two a week in which meat plays a supporting role. Then, gradually work up to a few full-on vegetarian options. While the internet is a great place to start your journey towards a healthier menu, finding well-written and reliable recipes can be a challenge. We recommend visiting your local library and checking out a few titles. A few of our favorite veg-heavy and family-friendly cookbooks (translation: great for busy weeknights) include Ottolenghi Simple, Milk Street: Tuesday Nights, and A Modern Way to Cook.

#2 — Watch Your Weight

A few weeks ago we wrote about the relationship between obesity and sudden cardiac death in young people, but being overweight is a key risk factor for heart disease for people of all ages. Which is especially troubling, considering that 72% of Americans are either overweight or obese (Centers for Disease Control). Obesity can put you at risk for a myriad of health problems related to heart disease such as stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. If you’re worried about your weight, don’t hesitate to speak to your doctor or to contact a nutritionist to develop a plan of action.

Losing weight can be daunting, but here’s the good news: there’s scientific evidence that losing just 5% of your body weight can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, decrease your risk of diabetes, help pave the way for a better night’s sleep, and reduce inflammation (Obesity Action Coalition).

#3 — Make a Promise to Yourself to Exercise More

New Federal physical activity guidelines released on earlier this week recommend that adults “…complete at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity every week, along with strength training twice a week. They also suggest balance training for older people and, for the first time, urge kids between the ages of 3 and 5 to be active for at least three hours a day, an acknowledgment that even small children run the risk of being too sedentary these days” (New York Times).

Staying active and fit can lower your blood pressure, help you lose or maintain your weight, lower your cholesterol, help control your blood sugar, and reduce your stress levels.

Okay, we all know why exercise is good for us, but only 1 in 5 adults and teens get enough exercise. Yikes!

If you’re sedentary, start by simply getting up more frequently and moving around. Invest in a pedometer, Fitbit, or step-counting app to help you achieve your fitness goals. Soon, you’ll find yourself taking the stairs, rather than the elevator and parking as far away from the entrance as possible. Every step counts, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly they add up!

Once you’ve hit your 10,000 steps-per-day goal, set your sites on some cardio and weight training. Make exercising social by going to a class at the gym or by enlisting a friend to work out or walk with you. If you’re the solitary sort, go for a meditative walk or run. Either way, be consistent but be willing cut yourself some slack; if there are days when fitting in 30 minutes of exercise seems impossible, try to fit in a few 10-minute exercise breaks throughout the day.

You may want to speak with your physician before starting an exercise program.

#4 — Read Labels

Who knew that reading was such a great strategy for preventing heart disease?! Following a heart-healthy diet means keeping a close eye on your sodium, sugar, and fat intake, since these are tied to heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. What better way to watch what you eat than to read the fine print?

Generally speaking, pre-packaged foods aren’t as healthy as meals and snacks that are prepared fresh from whole ingredients. While you’re paying attention to calories, fats, sodium, and sugar, be sure to keep an eye on serving sizes! Hint: beverages can be a surprising source of sugar and sodium. Eliminating soda, energy drinks, supermarket smoothies, and juices can do wonders for your daily calorie intake.

#5 — Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Poor sleep is tied to a number of risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, heart failure, and sleep apnea. For many, getting a good night’s sleep (that’s 7-9 hours for adults) is harder than it sounds. Invest in a white noise machine, avoid afternoon coffee runs and evening chocolate binges, turn off the TV, go to sleep at the same time every night, and avoid alcohol before bedtime.

Ready to promote heart-healthy choices and cardiac awareness at your workplace? Contact us to learn more about our blended or traditional CPR and First Aid training courses. Call our team at 866-349-4362 or email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

 

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Join Cardio Partners for the Great American Smokeout on November 15

Be inspired to quit. Make today the day for a healthier you.

Although the numbers of American adults who smoke recently hit its lowest point since the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) began tracking smoking statistics in 1965 (American Cancer Society), 34.3 million adults in the United States still smoked cigarettes in 2017 and 47.4 million people used some type of tobacco product. Cigarette smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the country. An estimated 480,000 American adults die from cigarette smoking and secondhand smoke exposure every year (American Cancer Society).

Cigarette smoking is a known risk factor for sudden cardiac death, and here at Cardio Partners and AED.com we’re all about reducing the number of Americans who die from cardiac arrest each year. Whether we accomplish that by advocating for CPR Training, AED Drills in schools, urging early screening for cardiovascular risk factors, or supporting great causes like the Great American Smokeout, we’re all in.

While the numbers are stunning and the health benefits are undeniable, statistics and scare tactics alone are rarely enough to convince a smoker to quit. Certainly, quitting smoking is the right move, but as any former smoker will tell you, it’s really hard to do.  

So make November 15 the day you do it. The Great American Smokeout is the perfect opportunity to seek the counseling and support you need to succeed. The American Cancer Society notes that finding the right support or getting help through medications may double or even triple your chance of quitting successfully.

Quitting Smoking is Hard. Make a Plan.

Nicotine addiction is one of the strongest and deadliest additions. Quitting smoking takes dedication, endurance, self-control, and perhaps most importantly, a plan. The American Cancer Society encourages smokers to speak to their pharmacist or physician to come up with a strategy that’s right for them based on their daily nicotine intake and lifestyle.

Find the Resources and Support that Work for You

Some may prefer to gradually taper off their cigarette intake while others may have a better chance for success by quitting cold turkey. Some may prefer to quit with a friend while others may prefer the help of an app. Regardless of your preferences, there’s plenty of research that shows that smokers are most successful in their cessation efforts when they have several different support options, such as:

How to Manage Cigarette Cravings

Even if you have a solid plan and you’ve discussed possible medications with your doctor, the urge to smoke can strike at any time. Resisting a powerful craving is one of the toughest things a smoker can do. Even former smokers with years of smoke-free anniversaries under their belts still do battle with cigarette cravings. We’ve polled a few former smokers and have put together a list of alternatives that have the stamp of approval from our team.

  • Go for a walk or run — and keep moving until the urge passes
  • Make a call to a local quitline
  • Try deep breathing or meditation
  • Call or text a friend
  • Think of all reasons why you quit in the first place
  • Remind yourself that you’ve come so far
  • Believe that you can resist the urge
  • Make an appointment with an acupuncturist
  • Chew gum
  • Pop a tart vitamin C drop into your mouth
  • Eat a crunchy, healthy fruit or vegetable snack
  • Reward yourself with a small treat for fending off a craving
  • Calculate how much money you’ve saved by not smoking
  • Make a playlist of your favorite songs and listen to it whenever a craving strikes
  • Stay busy
  • Go someplace (like a movie theater or restaurant) where smoking is prohibited
  • Distract yourself by doing a good deed (picking up litter, making a donation to your favorite charity)

We wish you good luck and strength in your quest to quit! Believe that you can, and you can do it. For more information on sudden cardiac arrest, AEDs, or CPR training, visit AED.com or call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. You can also email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

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