It’s the season when the cold winter weather can impact your health. As we get older, our ability to regulate body temperature decreases-we have less body fat and muscle and cannot generate heat as efficiently as we once did. Here are five winter health tips to protect yourself and educate your loved ones:
Elevated blood pressure. Our bodies respond to cold temperatures by constricting our blood vessels. While this helps us retain body heat, it also stimulates the heart muscle to pump harder to maintain normal blood flow against the added resistance (i.e. increased blood pressure). The act of shivering also increases your heart rate and blood pressure. With these ideas in mind, it’s important to wear layers, gloves and a hat, especially if you know that you’re going to be outside.
Increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The number of heart attacks increases by more than 50% as the seasons transition from summer to winter. As mentioned above, vessel constriction makes the heart work harder. This can cause tears in the plaque lining artery walls resulting in the formation of blood clots, which can lead to heart attack or stroke. Consult with your physician first to avoid overexertion and added stress on the heart.
Respiratory issues. Like our arteries, our airways respond to cold, dry air by constricting. Narrowed airways restrict airflow making breathing more labored and exacerbating asthma, emphysema and other lung problems. If you have any of these conditions, monitor them closely and avoid strenuous activities, especially outdoors.
Vitamin D deficiency. Sunlight is the primary, natural source from which we obtain vitamin D. During the winter, days are shorter and less sunlight means less vitamin D synthesis. Low levels of this essential vitamin have been correlated with an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, dementia, heart disease, osteoporosis and other serious conditions.
Seasonal Affective Disorder. Less sunlight also means increased risk of seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression experienced in the fall and winter. Symptoms are similar to those of clinical depression-social withdrawal, loss of energy, anxiety, etc.
If you notice the onset of these symptoms coincides with the winter months, talk to your doctor to determine a plan of action for treatment.
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One of the most simple and effective preventative measures one can take to avoid these health dangers is to adopt and maintain healthy lifestyle behaviors. Our proprietary Balanced Care Method is a holistic approach to care based on scientifically proven behaviors that promote optimal health and longevity including nutrition, physical and mental activity, social ties, calmness and purpose. Contact us today to speak with a Care Manager at your local office, or visit us at www.HomeCareAssistance.com to learn more about how to become a healthier you.