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Your Life, Your Health: Cold weather and your heart

Updated: Monday, January 20 2014, 06:20 PM EST
As the Capital Region prepares for temperatures to take another dip this week, have you ever wondered what stress cold weather puts on your heart? Freezing temperatures can be dangerous for anyone, especially if you have a heart condition.

CBS6’s Julia Dunn spoke to Mary Hart, a mother of two from Rennslaer County who is always extra careful when the mercury drops. Her heart operates at 40% and puts a dangerous twist on all things ‘winter’ – shoveling, chipping away ice, even walking through wet, heavy snow.

“Anything you do with your arms affects the heart more so than your legs.” Hart explains. “So I try to shovel light snow.”

Hart uses an angled shovel to make the workload easier. She also wears a scarf around her neck to warm the air she’s breathing. Extremely cold air makes her have heart palpitations. She says playing with her children in the snow this season already has been difficult.

“It is very hard for me trying to trudge through the snow and hold my son’s hand.” She says.

Cold weather makes your heart work harder and presents a risk to anyone – you don’t necessarily have to have a heart condition. The American Heart Association has the following recommendations:

  • Give yourself breaks when doing something strenuous, like clearing snow.
  • Don’t eat a heavy meal before shoveling, it put an extra load on the heart.
  • Use a small shovel to decrease workload.
  • Be aware of the dangers of hypothermia … remember to bundle up! Wear a hat to limit heat loss from your head.

More information on ‘Winter Weather Tips for Cardiac Patients’ you can visit the American Heart Association’s website:
Your Life, Your Health: Cold weather and your heart

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