The winter months are often an additional burden on the heart
Winter has reached Germany, with lowest temperatures down to minus eight degrees. This can become a danger, especially for cardiac patients, because the winter months often mean a considerable additional burden on the heart. The low temperatures can severely constrict blood vessels in different parts of the body, which can result in increasing blood pressure because the heart has to work against greater resistance. This means permanent stress for the heart muscle as well as for the walls of the vessels.
Right now, people with heart disease or heart failure should very carefully check their blood pressure and pulse. This is reported by Prof. Dr. med. Bernhard Schwaab, member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the German Heart Foundation and chief physician of the Curschmann Clinic, Timmendorfer Strand, in a communication from the German Heart Foundation. If the values are higher, the expert recommends some measures that can be used to counteract them.
The apartment should not be too cold and not too warm
According to the German Heart Foundation, individual studies indicate that there may be a connection between the temperature at home and blood pressure. In addition to warmer clothing, care should also be taken to ensure that the apartment is sufficiently heated. However, there is no general temperature recommendation. The experts therefore suggest checking whether the heat actually improves blood pressure. An apartment that is too warm is also unfavorable.
Exercise can have a positive effect on blood pressure
In addition to medication, exercise is one of the best methods for lowering blood pressure, reports the German Heart Foundation. Regular physical activity can not only lower blood pressure, but is also one of the most effective ways to protect yourself from sudden cardiac death. However, you should make sure you have enough warm clothing when you are moving in the cold. A scarf in front of your mouth can prevent air that is too cold from getting into your lungs. The warm-up training can be started at home, for example through gymnastics or running on the spot.
If symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest tightness arise in the cold, the training must be stopped immediately and those affected should return to a warm environment. According to the German Heart Foundation, such symptoms are to be understood as warning signs and must be clarified by a doctor.
Salt in the diet can affect blood pressure
Part of the population has salt-sensitive blood pressure. In these people, blood pressure drops when they eat less salt in their diet. You can test whether you belong to this group of people by deliberately reducing the amount of salt and checking your blood pressure at regular intervals in the following period. The World Health Organization recommends a maximum of five grams per day.
If all methods do not help to lower blood pressure, the German Heart Foundation advises to consult the doctor in order to possibly adjust the dose of the blood pressure medication until it warms up again.
Heart patients should protect themselves from the flu
The flu can be an enormous additional burden on the cardiovascular system. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) therefore advises heart-sick patients as a preventive measure against flu for a flu vaccination. However, this should always be clarified with the family doctor. In addition, everyone should wash their hands regularly, as pathogens can be found on door handles, keyboards, handles, railings and the like. You should also avoid touching your face with unwashed hands, as the pathogens can enter the body through the mucous membranes in the mouth and nose. You should also keep a distance from people who are already ill.
Which cardiovascular diseases are affected by cold?
The German Heart Foundation refers to numerous statistics that show which cardiovascular diseases occur particularly frequently in winter or worsen in winter. These include coronary artery disease (CHD), myocardial infarction, complaints from angina pectoris, high blood pressure, weak heart, atrial fibrillation and deep leg vein thrombosis. Connections between the cold and the more frequent occurrence of strokes, pulmonary embolism and certain cardiac arrhythmias are also suspected. (vb)