The statistics about heart disease in America are bound to make your jaw drop. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) details over 650,000 people succumb to heart disease every year, making it the #1 killer disease in Uncle Sam’s country for decades now. Simply put: that’s equivalent to one American dying every 40 seconds.
But if you think that’s the worst part, you need to think again. What could be alarming for you (especially now that the holidays are here) is that most cardiovascular deaths happen during the colder months of winter. Christmas Day is when more people die of heart attacks than any other day of the year.
The good news is most, if not all, of cardio deaths, are primarily preventable. There are lifestyle adjustments you can make to lower your health risk. Second of all, the cold (known to be a significant factor in these deaths) is largely tameable. Exactly why we’re giving you three spot-on gadgets to make all that closer to reality.
A Cold Reality Check: Heart Attacks in Christmas
If ever there was a ‘magical’ time of the year when everyone gears up to be as festive as can be, Christmas would top that list. Hands down, it’s the time of the year when kids expect a present or two, adults mingle with old friends and family, and everyone anticipates a glorious moment with the people they love.
But alas and alack, it is in this “happy time” of the year that most people’s hearts fail. All the merrymaking can certainly blindside us.
A study done in Sweden shows Christmas is the “worst day of the year” for heart attacks. The incidence of heart attacks rose to 40% on Christmas Eve — specifically at around 10 PM on that day. The study analyzed timing data of 283,014 heart attacks from the year 1998 to 2013.
If you’ve been wondering about the U.S., know heart disease has taken a considerable toll on North America. Overall, heart disease claims more lives than any other sickness in America (except for COVID-19 during the pandemic).
Table 1: Top Killer Diseases in America according to CDC.
Some people may have warned you about the dangers of shoveling your front yard during winter. While it may not be a rule, winter-cleaning your home’s front view with a shovel has resulted in heart attacks.
One study revealed why you need to take extra precautions in winter. For instance, call shoveling a dangerous act. Snow shoveling injures thousands of victims each year, not to mention at least 100 American lives.
You might wonder why winter is such a difficult time of the year for your heart. Well, the reasons can be as varied as the circumstances. But here’s how experts see it:
In his studies, Dr. Robert A Kloner (Chief Science Officer at University Southern California Los Angeles School of Medicine) has shown that winter cold and other seasonal factors raise the risk of heart attacks. It's an issue whether you're in frigid Alaska or sunny California.
Expounding, Dr. Kloner detailed, "Cardiac deaths begin to climb around Thanksgiving, peak early this year then decrease as warmer weather returns.” To put his findings into perspective, he added: “The elderly are especially susceptible during these periods."
The cold makes arteries constrict. That decreases blood flow, thereby slowing down the delivery of vital oxygen. A 2015 study Kloner worked on showed that death rates from circulatory problems, coronary heart disease, and heart attacks all rose as temperatures fell.
Every time the temperature drops by 1-degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit equivalent), deaths due to these causes increase by 0.49%. Kloner emphasizes that it’s essential to “keep warm” and “bundle up,” most applicable if you have coronary artery disease.
More Significant Burden on the Heart
Winter means shorter days. That means a lot lesser sunshine — a factor that discourages people from exercising. That translates to more wood-burning fireplaces, another air pollution contributor to hurt people’s hearts and lungs.
Shorter days mean longer nights. And the presence of more dark times can be a fertile breeding ground for depression. Indeed,t being upset emotionally has been directly linked to cardiac disease.
And that’s why shoveling in the snow can mean a brush with death for some, especially true for people with heart disease.
A study led by Dr. Natalie Auger, an epidemiologist at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Center in Quebec, revealed that the more snow falls, the more men had heart attacks. Digging deeper, the researchers realized shoveling had a lot to do with it.
When the snow falls harder, men tend to clean their front yard more. For someone harboring a heart disease, that can be problematic. Working in the snow means increasing your oxygen demand. Couple that with tightened arteries when out in the cold, and you can have a “double whammy” to trigger a heart attack or a stroke.
Having a lot of food and drinks is a blessing. But for someone with a sick heart, overindulgence can be a fatal blow. It explains why the significant dates on holiday - namely Christmas and New Year’s - are notorious for claiming more heart attacks and strokes than any day of the year.
Indeed, the change in the daily pattern can be traumatizing. People splurge, get drunk or go to faraway places: activities that are usually above normal. These can be disastrous for the heart.
Additionally, there is an increase in desire these days. People long for things that they don’t get in regular times. They pine for companionship and material things that may not be available. Overall, that can increase feelings of misery, leading to heart attack or stroke.
On the other end of the spectrum, too much happiness also triggers heart attacks. All the parties and merrymaking can be essential to elevate one’s mood and drive an unfortunate heart failure event.
Then, there is the case for delays. Hospitals and medical care may not be as available on the holidays, given that people take a vacation. And those who want to enjoy the festivities may choose to delay treatment until after the holidays.
Three Gadgets to Warm Your Heart Up!
Indeed, being forewarned is being forearmed. For instance, knowing the symptoms of a heart attack early on can be a lifesaver. Also, while moving the snow in front of your yard may sound logical to you, you may have to put it off. Or hire someone to do it. It costs a pittance compared to a trip to the hospital due to a heart attack.
Indeed, a lifestyle check matters. Stay active even in the cold months of winter. Being a couch potato not only makes you a fat magnet but also weakens your heart.
Moreover, you need to stay away from smoking and undue stress. Keeping things in moderation (e.g., food, alcohol, partying) can go a long way in maintaining a healthy heart — especially true if you’re a senior citizen or someone with heart complications.
Fortunately, you can employ the help of a few simple tools in your quest for a stronger heart in winter without drilling a massive hole in your wallet. Here are three:
Why It Matters:
During winter, the neck can be the most exposed part of your body. It’s one most vulnerable areas that can be taken care of with an oversized scarf — or even better, an electric scarf. All that incoming cold can indeed affect your heart.
With an electric scarf, you can get warmed up in an instant. While traditional scarves can be handy, they can easily fall short in giving you ample warmth when temperatures drop and approach the freezing point.
Exposing your neck to the elements is a no-no in wintertime, especially true when you’re planning to spend some time outdoors. By providing warmth, an electric scarf protects the neck and chest areas. Also, it can shield your face from the sweater weather, providing warm air to your lungs.
In the process, you prevent various pathogens common to wintertime from entering your body (e.g., the flu, the common cold). But that’s not all. There are a host of medical conditions that an electric scarf can help treat. Some of these are:
A common symptom of aging, lumbar spinal stenosis, is a condition of compressed spinal cords and nerves narrowing the spinal canal. With an electric scarf, you’ll prevent cold air from damaging your shoulder and back, alleviating the painful symptoms of the disease.
An electric scarf can help dilate the blood vessels in your neck and shoulder area. By doing so, you enhance the oxygen flow to these muscles, with it the needed nutrients.
Why It Matters:
You can’t beat a reliable electric blanket to warm you up — and your heart. And that cannot be underestimated. More than 1,000 Americans succumb to cold exposure, literally freezing to death every year in today’s modern times.
The cold in winter can certainly bite you, going as high as 67.4 degrees Fahrenheit (19.7 degrees Celsius) in Hawaii to as low as 2.6 °F (-16.3 °C) in Alaska. Overall, the entire American nation should experience a weather average of 33.2 °F (0.7 °C). A closer look will tell you that it’s just above freezing.
But an electric blanket can be your savior. It sure beats any standard blanket, no matter the thickness, in terms of giving warmth. To boot, since an electric blanket is closer to your skin, it can give you the warmth you need that no room heater or boiler can provide. You need not heat the whole room just to get a good night’s sleep when it comes down to it.
Electric blankets can undoubtedly come in handy when the temperatures start to go down. They can provide needed warmth without you turning the thermostat up.
What’s more, these blankets are energy efficient too. They take but a short time to heat up and can stay warm even after being unplugged.
Why It Matters:
You might raise an eyebrow upon seeing a thermal camera in this list. But truth be told, there may not be a more appropriate device to protect you from the cold this winter than an infrared imaging device.
First up, a thermal camera can plug energy holes in your precious abode. By showing you a thermal map of your interior, an infrared device will locate vulnerable areas. These are places where heat from the inside is escaping — draining you of the warmth you need to stay toasty.
By sealing these energy gaps, you not only save as much as 20% of your monthly energy bill, but more importantly, you give everyone the warmth they need to function best.
One of the most accessible places to check for potential cold-air leaks(and also remedy them before it gets too cold outside) is by looking at your windows' or door's weather stripping using a thermal camera. When these materials shrink in the wintertime, they can make a hole that will let all sorts of chilly air inside!
An infrared device makes sure you're not missing any spots. In a way, it prepares your precious abode to maximize the warmth inside your home. The device can also be primarily strategic. That means you can use the device to check every aspect of your house, from the bottom up.
Below are five ways a handy thermal camera can ensure your home stays as warm as possible in the cold months of winter — caring for the hearts of everyone in the process.
- Free the roof from unwanted heat loss.
- Minimize water infiltration in the basement.
- Minimize unnecessary heat loss in windows.
- Put sneaky molds to rest.
- Contain ice dams that corrupt ceilings.
Here’s a complete guide on how you can prepare your precious abode from the vicious attacks of winter. Winter can be the most suitable time to plug these energy holes as the weather outside provides a stark contrast to the temperature inside your building.
But it doesn’t end there. While we can’t emphasize enough how a thermal camera can winter-proof your home, there are ways other than structural that the device can be of tremendous help.
Top of that list, of course, is the ability to prevent the spread of the virus. A thermal camera can help you detect the presence of feverish individuals, keeping you at a safe distance from possible COVID-19 carriers. Take heed: there are more Americans who died in 2021 than in 2020.
Preventing disasters, of course, is at the heart of a thermal camera’s value. It can prevent fires, car crashes, and unwanted theft, to name a few. Small wonder, infrared technology is a standard tool in firefighting in America today.
Wrapping Things Up
Winter can be a great time to be with the people you love. Moderation is key. Make sure you take care of your heart before you engage in the holiday season’s activities (and do anything stupid) - reason enough why the three products we mentioned above add value to your life.
Indeed, with a bit of planning, you should be able to prevent a heart attack from snatching Christmas from the people you love.