7 Practical Tips For Taking Care Of The Heart This Winter

stress and heart

The winter season introduces specific hurdles for heart health, stemming from colder temperatures, reduced daylight, and shifts in lifestyle patterns. As temperatures drop, our bodies naturally adapt to retain core heat for warmth, which can pose challenges in adjusting to the colder climate, particularly for individuals with a heart condition. It can affect your circulation and put extra stress on your heart.
Climate change significantly contributes to the yearly upsurge in cardiovascular incidents during winter worldwide [1]. An estimated 17.3 million people died from cardiovascular disease (CVD) in 2008, representing 30% of all global deaths with higher incidence rates during the winter than in the summer [2].

There are several theories as to why the risk of heart issues increases in winter: The major risk factors are categorised into biological and lifestyle factors.

Biological Risk Factors

-Low temperatures prompt blood vessels to constrict, potentially elevating blood pressure and amplifying the chances of experiencing a heart attack [3].
-In colder conditions, the heart exerts additional effort to sustain a balanced body temperature. The chilly winds exacerbate this challenge by accelerating heat loss from the body. When the body temperature falls below 95 degrees, the risk of hypothermia increases, which potentially causes harm to the heart muscle.

Lifestyle Risk Factors

-The colder months often bring about stress and mood changes, notably due to reduced exposure to sunlight, which may lead to emotional strain affecting heart health. This is often called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) [4].
-During winter, dietary habits may shift towards increased intake of comfort foods laden with unhealthy fats, sodium, and excess calories. These dietary changes can heighten the risk of heart-related issues.
-The drop in temperatures typically discourages outdoor exercise and physical activity, promoting a more sedentary lifestyle that can adversely affect heart health.

Some of the signs that indicate the heart is in trouble include:

-Chest discomfort: Manifesting as pain, pressure, or a tight sensation, often likened to squeezing or fullness.
-Shortness of breath: Difficulty breathing, notably during physical activity or at rest.
Irregular heartbeat: Skipped beats, or a rapid heart rate.
-Fatigue: Unusual tiredness or a lack of energy, even with minimal exertion.
-Dizziness: A sensation of feeling faint or dizzy, potentially leading to fainting.
-Cold sweats: Sudden sweating that occurs unrelated to exercise or heat.

If anyone experiences any of these symptoms, especially chest discomfort or shortness of breath, seek immediate medical attention. These signs could indicate a heart-related issue that requires prompt evaluation and treatment.
Consult A Doctor

Here is a list of some practical heart care tips tailored for the winter season:

1. Layer Clothing: In colder weather, layering clothing helps regulate body temperature by trapping heat close to the body. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, add insulating layers like fleece or wool for warmth, and finish with a waterproof or windproof outer layer. Hence, layering is essential for maintaining comfort and avoiding extremes in body temperature, especially when stepping outdoors during winter.

2. Stay Active: Participating in indoor exercises, such as dancing, stair climbing, or utilizing a stationary bike, contributes significantly to physical activity levels and supports heart health during colder seasons. Dancing not only promotes cardiovascular health but also uplifts mood, while stair climbing and stationary cycling offer low-impact yet effective workouts.

3. Manage Stress: To alleviate seasonal stress or anxiety, implementing relaxation techniques, meditation, or indulging in hobbies can effectively mitigate emotional strain. Incorporating relaxation practices or hobbies into your routine provides a proactive approach to counteract seasonal stress, fostering mental well-being amidst colder months.

4. Monitor Indoor Heating: Maintaining a balanced indoor temperature by adequately using room heaters is crucial during winter. Sudden fluctuations in temperature, especially with indoor heating sources, can potentially stress the heart. Avoiding drastic shifts helps in preventing undue strain on the cardiovascular system, ensuring a more heart-friendly environment.

5. Healthy Winter Diet: Nourishing your body with a winter-friendly diet is essential. Embrace seasonal produce like citrus fruits, root vegetables, and leafy greens, along with incorporating omega-3-rich foods such as salmon or flaxseeds, fiber-filled grains like oats or quinoa, and antioxidant-packed berries. This diverse range of foods not only supports heart health but also fortifies your body against seasonal changes.

6. Drink Adequate Water: Staying hydrated is crucial even when it’s cold outside. While you might not feel as thirsty as in warmer weather, it’s essential to maintain sufficient water intake to support your heart’s health and keep your body functioning well. Adequate hydration helps regulate blood flow, supports cardiovascular health, and ensures your body systems work optimally, even amidst the winter chill.

7. Take Medications on Time: Ensuring you stick to your prescribed medications for any pre-existing heart conditions is crucial during the winter months. Before making any changes to your medication regimen, it’s vital to consult your healthcare provider.

By integrating these practical tips into your winter routine, you can better safeguard your heart health during the colder months. Regular monitoring, staying well-hydrated, and making mindful choices lay the groundwork for a healthy heart, allowing you to embrace the season while safeguarding your most vital organ.

Remember, taking care of your heart is not confined to a season, it’s a commitment to lifelong well-being.

(The article is written by Simran Suri, Assistant Team Lead, and reviewed by Monalisa Deka, Senior Health Content Editor)


1. Stewart S, Moholdt TT, Burrell LM. Winter Peaks in Heart Failure: An Inevitable or Preventable Consequence of Seasonal Vulnerability? National Library Of Medicine. [Updated 2019].
Available From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6546000/
2. Fares A. Winter cardiovascular diseases phenomenon. [Updated 2013].
3. Ikäheimo TM. Cardiovascular diseases, cold exposure and exercise. Temperature (Austin). [Updated: 2018].
4. Seasonal Affective Disorder. Johns Hopkins Medicine.


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