How Does Winter Weather Increase Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease?

Woman standing outdoors in a grey winter outfit clutching her chest with both hands and grimacing in pain in a concept of a heart attack or cardiac problemIt’s important to be aware of the effects that cold, windy winter weather can have on your cardiovascular system. For some people, this weather can increase the risk of developing a serious medical problem; for others, particularly people who already have a cardiovascular condition, this weather can worsen the symptoms they experience and potentially lead to further complications. 

The heart plays a vital role in maintaining your internal body temperature. If this temperature can’t stay above 95 degrees Fahrenheit, you could experience hypothermia, leading to potential symptoms such as a lack of coordination, fatigue, and confusion. To avoid this, your heart may have to work harder to keep you warm. This stress on your heart is even greater if you’re performing a physical outdoor activity, such as shoveling snow or jogging. You may begin to experience symptoms such as chest pain or even a heart attack. 

There are certain steps you can take to protect yourself against these risks throughout the winter season. Some of these include:

  • Taking frequent breaks to rest while performing a physical activity
  • Wearing multiple warm layers (including at least one water-resistant outer layer)
  • Staying hydrated, particularly while performing a physical activity

If you have a heart condition, are at risk of developing one, or are experiencing symptoms, you should consult a cardiologist to explore the most effective precautions you can take to protect your health during the winter season. You can schedule an appointment with a cardiologist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center by calling (718) 206-7100.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How to Spot and Prevent Frostbite

Frostbite is an injury caused to the skin and underlying tissues as a result of exposure to windy and cold- weather conditions.

Staying outside in extreme weather conditions for extended periods of time is the most common factor and risks increase when temperatures fall below 5°farenheit, or in conditions with above freezing temperatures and extreme wind chills. Additional factors may include:

  • Direct contact with ice, very cold liquids and freezing metals.
  • Wearing clothing that is not suitable to protect against cold weather.

Although frostbite mostly occurs on parts of the skin that are not properly covered, it is important to note that in extreme temperatures it can also develop on areas that are covered by clothing.

Our nose, fingers, cheeks, ears and toes are the parts of our bodies that are highly susceptible to frostbite. They are furthest away from our core and are first to decrease in blood flow in cold temperatures.

The symptoms of frostbite vary with severity and are categorized in three stages:

Frostnip:  This is a mild form of frostbite. Skin may turn pale or very red and feels cold.  The affected areas may also itch, burn, sting or feel tingly. Continued exposure may lead to a “pins and needles” feeling or numbness.

Superficial Frostbite:  Skin appears reddened or pale. Skin can become hard and look waxy or shiny.  At this stage, after the skin is thawed, blisters may form on the affected area. Skin may also appear blue or purple once rewarmed.

Severe (Deep) Frostbite:  Severe cases of frostbite affect all layers of the skin as well as the tissues that lie below.  Skin becomes very hard and cold to the touch. It may look blue and some instances black, as the tissue dies. The affected area may lose all sensation and joints or muscles may no longer work.

Some people are more at risk of developing frostbite than others, they include:

  • The elderly
  • Young children
  • Patients taking medication such as beta blockers that reduce blood flow to skin
  • Diabetics
  • People who use nicotine
  • People under the influence of alcohol
  • People with prior cold-related injuries

Frostbite is preventable. If you expect to spend time outdoors in cold weather, take care in protecting yourself. Dress appropriately and in layers.  When temperatures become extreme, stay inside as much as possible. It is also advised that you stay hydrated; dehydration increases your risk of frostbite. Avoid drinking alcohol or smoking if you know you will be outside in the extreme cold.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Does Winter Weather Make Arthritis Worse?

Lonely old lady

Bundle up, work out indoors, and keep plenty of vitamin D in your diet. These are some of the ways you can get arthritis pain relief despite the bone-chilling cold of winter weather. Many people who experience more severe arthritis pain in the winter than compared to other months believe that barometric pressure is to blame for their heightened discomfort. However, that old wives tale hasn’t been proven scientifically.

Whether the joint pain/weather connection is scientifically true or not, you can still use these arthritis pain-relief tips when your aching joints act up in winter.

  • Stay active. Keep your body stimulated by doing light exercises or consistent movements to keep your joints moving. Do it indoors to keep away from the cold.
  • Eat a Healthy diet. Eating a balanced diet that comprised of low saturated fat, lean proteins, more fiber, and refined carbs helps to improve body functions during the winter.
  • Add Vitamin D. It is necessary to take a supplement vitamin D or ensure to make your diet vitamin-D rich. Fish oil is a potent source of omega 3 fatty acids as well as getting natural sunlight.
  • Stay Hydrated. Hydration is most often associated with sweat and the summer months, but it’s just as important to drink plenty of water in winter, too.

If your arthritis doesn’t improve after trying the above tips it is very important that you consult with a doctor immediately. The Division of Rheumatology at Jamaica Hospital provides consultations for patients who develop rheumatological disorders, such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 718-206-7001

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.