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How Extreme Cold Weather Affects Your Heart

man shoveling snow

This winter season has brought extreme cold temperatures, ice, and snow to many regions of the United States.  That extreme weather can also pose an increased risk of heart attack rates. In fact, a study by the National Registry of Myocardial Infarction found that 53 percent more heart attack cases were reported in winter as opposed to summer.

“Being in a cold environment causes our bodies to make certain physiological adjustments to preserve our core body temperatures,” said Dr. Rizwan Khalid, interventional cardiologist at Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg. "These normal adjustments can present a challenge to people with heart disease. When people spend a prolonged time in the cold, their blood vessels constrict which forces water to leave circulation. This causes the blood to thicken which makes it more likely to clot, increasing heart attack risk.”

Cold temperatures cause:

  • Your heart rate to increase.
  • Your blood pressure to increase.
  • Your heart to work substantially harder to pump your blood.
  • An increased risk for blood clotting.
  • An increased risk of chest pain, heart attack or stroke from overexertion

All the above factors can lead to acute cardiac problems in somebody with heart disease. While everyone needs to take precautions when they are in a cold environment, precautions are especially important if you have a heart problem.

If you would like to speak a cardiologist about heart disease and extreme cold weather, please contact:

  • Pittsburg – 620-232-5705 (Dr. Ali Hammad/Dr. Rizwan Khalid) or 620-231-5965 (Dr. Bashar Marji)
  • Wichita – find a doctor at


About Michelle Kennedy

Michelle Kennedy is the Senior Marketing Specialist for Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Manhattan, Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg and Wamego Health Center. She is a proud wife and mom and loves cooking, camping and spending time outdoors, her dogs and reading.