It’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Week! As winter temperatures drop and snow storms grow closer, it’s important to make sure you protect your heart. Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, shares how you can make sure your heart is in good shape for the winter.

Why does cold weather affect our hearts differently?

The cold weather makes your heart work harder to keep your body warm. Combined with physical activity, this can create circumstances that increase the risk of a heart attack. If not prepared, even walking through snow can put unwanted strain on your heart.

In fact:

● Every 1.8 degree decrease in the outdoor temperature is associated with 200 additional heart attacks.

● Cold temperatures increase blood pressure and protein levels, which also increase heart attack risk.

● 50 percent more heart attacks occur during the winter months than in the summer months.

How can we protect our heart while shoveling snow?

There are many things you can do to look after your heart in the cold and make shoveling easier, such as:

Use a smaller shovel to avoid lifting heavy amounts of snow and push the snow out of the way instead of lifting it.

Wearing a few thin layers can help keep you warmer than one thick layer.

Take breaks and pay attention to how your body feels during.

● If you suffer from angina (chest pain), wear a scarf wrapped loosely around your mouth and nose to breathe in warmer air.

Know the warning signs of a heart attack and immediately take action if or someone else is experiencing symptoms.

What are the signs of a heart attack?

Knowing when to call 911 can save your heart from severe damage. Call 911 if you notice these heart attack symptoms:

Chest Discomfort: pressure, squeezing, burning or pain in the center of the chest.

Upper Body Discomfort: discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach

Other Signs: Cold sweats, shortness of breath, nausea and light-headedness

Want a night on the town in Washington, D.C.? Take Adventist HealthCare’s fast, FREE heart health risk assessment this February to learn your risk for heart disease and enter for your chance to win a two-night getaway in Washington with tickets to the Kennedy Center.

Rose Melendez, RN

Rose Melendez, RN

Head of Emergency Department

Rose Melendez, RN is the head of the Emergency Department and Nursing Administration at Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center. Tune into WGTS 91.9 FM every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m. to listen to Nurse Rose live on the radio.

Take our FREE online Heart Risk Assessment