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Why you might face increased risk of heart attack during December and January

During cold weather, your core body temperature may start to drop, so to make up for that, you may shiver, your heart rate may increase and there may be more strain on your heart.

Scientists wanted to know if that put us at risk for heart attack. The American Heart Association found for the older, frail population, it's possible winter months can play a part.

Memorial Hermann of Greater Heights cardiologist Dr. Shahid Rahman, said he's not convinced the temperature is to blame, although he does agree the highest volume of heart attack deaths come in during December and January.

“The temperature in and of itself isn't detrimental, but what ends up happening is classic kind of ideas, someone who maybe has been sedentary during the summer months has to get outside and do something, maybe they're covering plants, maybe a pipe burst or if you're in the north you're shoveling snow. Suddenly you're exerting yourself in cold weather that in and of itself can cause some vasoconstriction and more challenges to the heart,” Rahman explained.

He said the best medicine you can take to care for your body is healthy foods but considering this is also the time of year when diets fall through the cracks, stress is high and the flu is peaking, you're putting a lot of strain on your body.

“Inflammation and stress in the body can increase rates of heart attack. Heart attacks often happen in the middle… early morning hours when cortisol peaks but you can have increased cortisol just from increased stress,” Rahman said.

If you've pushed yourself too far, signs of a heart attack include:

Chest pain
Pressure in the chest, left arm, jaw
Shortness of breath

Rahman recommends avoiding too many heavy meals, carbs and sugary foods and taking time to relax. He said yoga, meditation and finding ways to center yourself will lower stress without straining your heart.