How to stay heart healthy during the winter

Winter poses a wide variety of dangers to older adults. Icy walkways can make it hard to get around and the lack of sunlight could contribute to symptoms of depression. Not only that, but cold weather has also been tied to an increased risk of cardiovascular problems. Doctors say seniors are more likely to encounter heart problems during the winter for a variety of reasons, including fewer opportunities for physical activity, lower levels of vitamin D and changes to daytime routine, according to Luckily, seniors, whether they live in an assisted or independent living setting, can take steps to stave off heart problems during the winter.

Dress the right way
It may go without saying, but how seniors dress in the winter can make a big difference in their overall health. Doctors point out that low temperatures can have a significant impact on the function of the cardiovascular system, so it’s essential that older adults bundle up appropriately once the temperature starts to dip. According to the American Heart Association, the best route is to wear layers because air will get trapped between each one, providing a useful method of insulation.

Keep to a routine
Cynthia Thaik, a cardiologist at the American College of Cardiology, points out that older adults may be tempted to start their days earlier due to the fact there are fewer hours of daylight during the winter months. However, this can be potentially hazardous to their heart health because blood pressure tends to spike in the early morning hours, which can increase the risk of heart attack.

“The heart likes to take time and warm up,” she told AgingCare?. “Take things gradually in the morning.”

Focus on diet
Nutrition is an important part of senior health all year, and that is even more true during the winter. Experts recommend sticking to a diet loaded with vegetables by incorporating vegetable-rich soups to the menu. Additionally, seniors should focus on adding some vitamin D to their diets because they may not be able to get as much of the vital nutrient due to the dearth of daylight. According to The Huffington Post, foods such as salmon, tuna and mushrooms are all excellent natural sources of vitamin D.