Here comes the season for heart attacks

According to health and wellness experts, more people die of heart attacks during the months of November through January than any other time of the year.

Recent studies at various universities across the country report that 53 percent more heart attacks occur in the winter than summer. January was the leader with twice as many heart attacks per day than July, the safest month. And winter heart attacks tended to be more serious, with a 9 percent fatality rate. Researchers from the Holistic Health Foundation suggest that winter heart attacks produce more damage to cardiac muscle than those in any other season. There are many reasons as to why this could happen.

They include:

Colder temperatures. People with coronary artery disease can suffer chest pain when exposed to the cold. Hypothermia (a body temperature that is below normal) can cause heart failure and death. Wind can be especially dangerous, removing the layer of heated air that surrounds the body.

Alcohol. Drinking alcoholic beverages before going out in the cold can give you a feeling of warmth, but the alcohol actually draws heat away from your body’s vital organs. Alcohol, cold weather and outdoor activity don’t mix. These conditions increase your chances for hypothermia.

LDL (bad cholesterol) levels peak in December and January. High cholesterol is a major cause of heart disease.

The holiday season. Holiday stress can cause chest pain and initiate heart attacks. So can excess eating and drinking, as well as excessive weight gain.

Colds, flu and other infections. One study showed that a person’s heart-attack risk triples in the 10 days following these types of illnesses.

Here are some ways to avoid heart attacks:

Eat an Ultra Fit friendly diet. This means avoiding excessive amounts of salt, sugars and saturated fats!

Join a gym and hire a professional trainer to help educate you, motivate you, hold you accountable to your training and diet and to challenge you with some incredible specially designed workouts to suit your individual needs.

Be careful and don’t overdo it when outdoors. Your body has to work extra hard just to stay warm in the winter.

Don’t smoke.

Don’t overeat at holiday celebrations.

Know the warning signs of a heart attack.

Discomfort or pain in the chest, possibly going into the neck, back, jaw, arms or shoulders.

Numbness or tingling in one or both arms.

Nausea or vomiting.

Extreme fatigue.

Shortness of breath.

Indigestion or heartburn.


Dizziness, weakness or passing out.

Don’t wait. If you experience any these symptoms, call 911 immediately. Unfortunately, most people wait at least two hours before seeking help, which can lead to severe heart damage or death.

Fitness expert and Fitness Hall of Fame recipient John DeFendis is the Director of Exercise and Fitness at Coop’s Health &

Fitness in Anderson and Greenville. A former Mr. USA and a personal trainer for more than 33 years, his specialty lies in weight loss and health.

*Results may vary from person to person.


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