Cardiac Arrest Risk Raises In Cold Weather

December 2, 2010 Updated Dec 2, 2010 at 11:34 PM EDT

By WKBW Programming

December 2, 2010 Updated Dec 2, 2010 at 11:34 PM EDT

With every winter weather warning, there could also be a health warning. A snowy forecast could forecast a heart attack in high risk people.

That's why the American Heart Association is issuing its own warning today, targeting people with existing heart disease or stroke, or anyone who has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smokes, is overweight and doesn't exercise.

These people are at risk of sudden cardiac arrest during times of heavy snow, so the American Heart Association has released the following tips to help people protect themselves in this kind of weather.

-Avoid sudden cold weather exertion. Shoveling can be good exercise, but not for those who are inactive and are in poor physical condition. Even walking through heavy, wet snow can strain a person's heart.

-Recognize the symptoms of hypothermia. That's when your body can't produce enough energy to keep your internal temperature warm enough. It can cause your heart to fail and lead to death. Watch for lack of coordination, mental confusion, slowed reactions, shivering and sleepiness.

-Stay warm. People with heart disease often suffer chest pain or discomfort when they are in cold weather. Wear layers and keep your hands and feet warm. They lose heat rapidly.

-Avoid alcohol before heading outdoors. It can make you feel warm initially, but alcohol actually draws heat away from your vital organs.

-Learn CPR. It can save a life.

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