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Winter is here; protect your heart

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Dr. Armaan Carrigan Shaikh, an Aurora BayCare cardiologist, points to a computer monitor.

Winter is here to stay. It’s a time when extra time spent outside in cold weather can affect your health. While we need to be cautious about the flu, frostbite and hypothermia, your heart health is also at risk.

“Winter activities like shoveling snow can put extra strain on your heart, especially for people who aren’t active year-round,” says Dr. Armaan Carrigan Shaikh, an Aurora BayCare cardiologist. “If it’s not something your body is used to, start slow so your heart has time to adjust to your change in activity and make sure to call your physician if you have any cardiovascular symptoms with activity, like shortness of breath or chest pain.”

Shaikh suggests people who have had a heart attack; have heart disease, high blood pressure or high cholesterol; are a smoker, or don’t exercise, should talk with their doctor before heading out in the snow because they’re at an increased risk for a heart attack or stroke.

To help protect your heart this winter:

  • Avoiding drinking alcohol or smoking before, during or after shoveling.
  • Dress in layers. Keep your head and mouth covered.
  • Eat heart-healthy foods, like salmon, berries, carrots and nuts.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Check your blood pressure regularly. If it’s high, it should be treated promptly.
  • Reduce your salt intake.
  • Get your flu shot.

“Use these tips year-round to keep your heart healthy,” Shaikh says. “It’ll help keep you in the best possible shape when winter hits.”

Published: Friday, January 4, 2019