By Dr. Deanna Lites

DETROIT (WWJ) – It’s getting cooler outside. But did you know that a drop in temperature can put older patients at risk for heart failure?

Elderly patients may be told that high blood pressure, excessive alcohol and obesity are risk factors for heart failure. Now you can add cold weather to that list.

A study from Quebec of more than 100,000 people aged 65 and older finds a higher risk of hospitalization or death from heart failure in the winter months, October to April, compared to the summer.

It may be due to how our body reacts to the cold, according to Providence Hospital cardiologist Souheil Saba.

“It’s interesting that we see more heart failure hospitalization, which may be the ultimate result of lack of blood flow with some degree of spasm in the coronary arteries with cold weather exposure,” he said.

Researchers recommend elderly patients at risk for heart failure pay attention to the cold weather and dress appropriately to avoid triggering a heart problem.

Cold weather can affect your health in a number of ways

During winter months, people spend more time inside and in close contact with each other which means the flu, coughs, and colds are more easily spread.

Heart attacks are more common in the winter. It may be because cold weather increases your blood pressure and puts more strain on your heart. Also your heart works harder to keep you warm.

Asthma attacks also happen more during the winter. The cold and dry air can cause tightening of the airways tightening so it’s hard to breathe.

Cold weather can cause depression in some people — seasonal effective disorder or (SAD) due to less daylight — and some people complain of more joint pain during the winter season.


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