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Trisha Torrey

A Cold Weather Tip for Anyone With Heart Disease

By February 6, 2009

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It may be Go Red Day for women's heart health day, but it seems only fair to share a tip for anyone at all (not just women!) who has heart disease.

It's a simple tip, easy for anyone to do, can be life saving, and I would be amazed (and I'll ask you to tell me) if it is advice you have ever heard before?

This tip stems from an article in Forbes Magazine called How to Avoid a Heart Attack.

Here it is: When you go outdoors in the cold winter air, and particularly if you plan to exert any kind of effort in that cold air, such as shoveling, or walking the dog, or playing with your kids or grandkids -- any sort of effort -- then wear a scarf to cover your mouth and nose. The idea is to warm up the air you breathe.

I interviewed Dr. Robert Carhart, cardiologist from SUNY Upstate Medical University, and asked him why on earth a scarf would be important. Here's what he told me:

When we breathe cold air into to our lungs, it constricts the blood vessels in our chest area right away. Because those blood vessels are then narrower, the heart must pump harder, working overtime and beating faster to pump blood in and out. When a heart isn't capable of successfully pumping so hard and fast, a heart attack can be the result.

Exposed hands, ears or any other body part will also result in constricted blood flow, so Dr. Carhart's advice was to cover yourself up well to help your heart.

Dr. Rich, our About.com guide to heart disease provides additional tips, too.

Do you live in a cold climate? Do you know someone who lives in a cold climate and has heart disease? Why not forward this tip on to him or her (see the share button below)?

And I'm curious... have you heart this tip before from your cardiologist or anyone else? Let us know, and share other tips you have with other patients, too.

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