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10 Tips And Tricks To Maintain Heart Health In Winter – From Bundling Up To Staying Active | Health News


Dec 28, 2023


Heart ailments can go up in winter. As temperatures drop, the cold causes the blood vessels to contract, raising your blood pressure levels temporarily and increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke, especially if you have aligned comorbidities. Dr Ravinder Singh Rao, MBBS, MD, DM, FACC, Interventional Structural Cardiologist, shares, “As the days get shorter and the nights get cooler, we must not forget to take care of ourselves. Maintaining and monitoring heart health is paramount, especially as the environment worsens, and temperature changes can impact cardio-vascular well-being.”

Dr Ravinder Singh Rao lists 10 ways to monitor and preserve heart health in winter:

1. Stay Active Indoors

While winter weather can discourage outdoor activity, maintaining a routine for physical activity is imperative for heart health. Consider things like home workouts, online yoga classes, or using an at-home treadmill. It is important to move regularly to improve circulation, lower blood pressure, and support overall cardiovascular health.

2. Bundle Up

If you do happen to live in an area which gets cold, be sure to layer up when exercising or going out. Layering is key to maintaining body heat. This is particularly important for office-goers, who experience drastically changing temperatures daily. Cold temperatures can constrict blood vessels (vasoconstriction), causing headaches and high blood pressure.

3. Maintain Heart-Healthy Diet

Winter brings with it a craving for rich, hearty meals, but it is essential to maintain a steady, healthy diet, especially as the weather cools down. The key here is to limit salt, saturated fats, and refined sugars; add in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Nutrient-rich foods contribute to optimal heart function and help manage weight.

4. Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can strain the heart and nervous system, no matter what the weather is like. However, when in the cold, individuals tend to feel less thirsty, but it is still extremely important to drink lots of water to maintain hydration. Use a reusable water bottle to keep track of your water intake even when the temperatures are lower. Herbal teas and warm water with lemon can be enjoyable alternatives to cold drinks.

5. Monitor Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is an important indication of an individual’s heart health, and cold weather can affect it. Home blood pressure machines are an effective way of keeping note of your blood pressure, especially if you suffer from hypertension. Keep checking your blood pressure regularly, and immediately alert a medical professional if you notice a significant change or have concerns.

6. Manage Stress

With the holiday and wedding season creeping up at the end of the year, many people might face a lot of stress for a variety of reasons. Chronic stress affects heart health, and managing it positively is key to monitoring heart health. Incorporate stress-relieving practices like meditation, and doing things that make you happy.

7. Consider Seasonal Vegetables With Heart Benefits

India has a wealth of homegrown vegetables and fruits that you can eat to maintain a healthy heart. Citrus fruits and cauliflower are rich in vitamin C and can help lower blood pressure. Fenugreek (or methi) helps to reduce excess cholesterol in our bloodstream. Indian carrots which are a winter speciality are rich in Vitamin A. Beetroots are loaded with antioxidants and are a great vegetable option throughout the year.

8. Quit Smoking

If you smoke or vape, consider quitting. Not only is it a major risk for heart disease and cancer, but with pollution levels rising every day smoking and vaping are unnecessary risks for heart health. Seek support from healthcare professionals or support groups to help you quit successfully.

9. Practice Mindful Breathing Exercises

An easy way to maintain and monitor heart health is to incorporate mindful breathing exercises into your daily routine. Techniques such as deep breathing and meditation can help manage stress levels as well, and overall promote cardiovascular health during the colder months.

10. Ensure A Good Night’s Sleep

Good sleep is important for overall health, not only for heart health. Establish a consistent sleep routine, with a comfortable sleeping environment without audio-visual disturbances, and aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Poor sleep adds to a host of other health issues which could eventually negatively impact heart health.

“It is not possible to maintain a healthy heart only by doing one or two things on this list. Good health, and especially good heart health is a commitment you make to yourself. With mindful lifestyle choices, one can maintain a well-functioning cardio-vascular system. Keep in mind that there are generalised tips and tricks and one should consult a licensed medical professional for personalised advice and to address specific concerns about your health,” shares Dr Rao.


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