How to Prevent this Winter from Being a Real Killer – Some Simple Steps for a Safer Season

You may have heard of the “holiday heart attack” or how dangerous it can be to shovel snow, and every year it seems like more than one unfortunate soul lands on the news (or in the ER) by succumbing to bad luck, bad health, and statistics. Time Magazine provided an in-depth look at the holiday-heart-attack phenomenon and it turns out there is some interesting and legitimate science behind the numbers. Even in warmer climates, there is an increase in fatal cardiac events by about 4%. So what gives? That old culprit stress, for one – the holidays have no shortage in bringing out the stress and bringing up the blood pressure in many people. Over-indulgence is another factor, be it food or alcohol, which can exacerbate existing cardiac or related health conditions. A sneaky factor like travel can even play a role, since no one wants to bother with finding the nearest ER in an unfamiliar town if they could maybe write off chest pain to, say, indigestion (of the aforementioned indulgences, obviously). But the holidays happen whether you’re in a warm or cold climate, so what can you do to minimize your risk this season?

Enjoy holiday treats in moderation: Despite a dazzling array of tempting treats this time of year, moderation is good advice that never goes out of style. Besides, how much egg nog should anyone really drink? Of course if you know you have current health conditions and have to watch your carbs, sugar, sodium, etc – the holidays aren’t a blank check to eat or drink at will. Follow your doctor’s orders so you’ll enjoy a happy new year!

De-stress when possible: Do what you can to practice good self care. Keep your regular fitness routine, and try to get outside at least once a day. Most research shows that with shorter days, getting even a small amount of natural light has a positive effect on mood. Stuck indoors? Try a natural-spectrum light or light bulb. Do certain family members make you crazy? Try to limit exposure or go to gatherings with a time limit and make sure you leave by your decided time. Even with family, moderation is good advice. If chronic stress is plaguing you, be sure to talk to your health care provider.

Don’t worry about being a bother: If you are feeling unusual, having strange or worrisome symptoms but “don’t want to be a bother” think how much more bothered your family or friends would be if you defer the doctor or hospital and collapse in the middle of dinner! No one wants to spend a holiday visit at the emergency room, but do your family and yourself a favor – and seek medical attention for any symptoms that concern you.

Don’t tackle shoveling the drive if it’s the most active you’ve been in months: There is a major increase in cardiac events during shoveling snow. It’s vigorous, tough activity and often under cold, tough conditions. Many people aren’t in good enough shape to do it but don’t think twice of grabbing the shovel once the snow starts to fly. Be smart and hire that enterprising young guy or gal around the corner – they’ll appreciate it and you’ll have time to schedule a check up with your doc. We have another article HERE about safely shoveling snow.

Don’t be afraid to get out and enjoy the lights, sights, and joy of the season but do so with caution and in moderation. Be sensible and if you have symptoms that concern you, seek immediate medical attention. If you have other health concerns from the winter season (or otherwise), be sure to call us at Body One. We have convenient locations in central Indiana with highly-trained, specialized physical therapists and providers to help you usher in an amazing 2018!

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