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Doctor: Cold weather raises risk of heart attack

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

During a year in which the swine flu virus received national attention, it's become widely known that wintry weather can weaken a person's immune system leaving him or her susceptible to illness. However, recent clinical testing has indicated that heart attacks may also be more common during the winter.

According to Dr Holly Anderson, director of education and outreach at the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute of New York-Presbyterian Hospital, as the body attempts to prevent heat loss, cold air causes blood vessels to constrict.

Tightened blood vessels can in turn raise blood pressure and reduce the flow of oxygen to the heart, especially if the body is strained by physical activities such as shoveling snow, HealthDay News reports.

Anderson told the news source, "This is a natural response that can also put people with heart conditions and those involved in strenuous exercise at greater risk of having a heart attack."

The heart expert explained that simple steps, such as stretching before exercise, taking frequent breaks during strenuous activities and dressing properly for cold weather can substantially reduce risks to heart health.

The American Heart Association indicates that about 34 percent coronary attacks are fatal.

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