Extreme cold stresses a sick heart

Get out in the fresh air and move around. This is also important in winter for people with heart problems. But then you shouldn't overdo it with the activity - and if in doubt, stay in it

People with heart problems prefer to take it slow in the freezing temperatures that prevail in many places. The German Heart Foundation advises them to avoid strenuous physical exertion such as shoveling snow. Exercise is also recommended in winter, but in the moderate range. For example, walks or short walks are good.

A tip from the foundation: wear a scarf or mask over your mouth and nose. This is how the preheated air enters the airways. In extreme cold, people with heart disease should rather move their activities indoors and get on a bicycle ergometer, for example. It is also important that the apartment does not cool down. According to the foundation, individual studies indicated that a cool apartment could increase blood pressure and put the heart at risk. That is why cardiac patients should keep their living spaces comfortably warm.

Why is severe cold a burden on the heart?

At very cold temperatures, the vessels constrict, which reduces the blood supply to the heart muscle, as the cardiologist Prof. Thomas Voigtländer from the foundation's board of directors explains. The muscle receives less oxygen as a result. At the same time, the so-called resistance vessels in the rest of the body would be narrowed. The result: the blood pressure rises. The heart, which is already being supplied with less oxygen, has to pump against a greater resistance.

For this reason, people with high blood pressure, heart failure, coronary artery disease, angina pectoris (chest tightness), atrial fibrillation and deep vein thrombosis should be particularly careful.