Experts: Cold weather can trigger heart attacks

    (MGN and WGXA/Roberto Wilson)

    MACON, Ga. (WGXA) - Winter weather can take a toll on your health if you're not careful and has even been known to cause heart attacks for people with preexisting heart conditions.

    Dr. Chip Hetzler, a cardiovascular surgeon at the Coliseum Medical Center, said, "Just being cold, in order to go ahead and stay warm, if you're not dressed properly, makes the heart work a little harder. Therefore, it demands more oxygen and more blood flow. If you have a blockage, you're not going to get it."

    Hetzler explained that you should also drink water before bed and as soon as you wake up to avoid having a heart attack, especially if you have electric heat since this can dehydrate you even further.

    "Almost everybody has electric heat, which is a very dry heat. If you don't go ahead and drink some water before bed, and a lot of people don't like to drink water before bed, you get dehydrated when you're asleep and therefore your blood pressure goes up, your blood gets thicker. And if you're prone to a heart attack, a lot of them happen first thing in the morning when you wake up," he said.

    While cold temperature-related heart problems won't be a concern for everyone, anyone with a heart condition should keep an eye on this during winter weather.

    Hetlzer said, "The classic is coronary artery disease. When you have blockage in your coronary artery, that's going to be the big one that will get folks."

    When you go out into frigid temperatures, be sure that you're not overdressed, which can also make it difficult to stay hydrated.

    "If you overdress for it and sweat and become dehydrated, then our natural tendency is to have our blood vessels constrict. Our blood pressure shoots up and then we have a problem from that standpoint," said Hetzler.

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