TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Heart disease is the leading cause of death here in the Hoosier state. Experts say that during the winter, we see a rise in heart attacks and strokes.
Doctor Sandeep Dube, a cardiologist at the Community Physician Network in Indianapolis, says winter weather can make it hard for the heart to do its job.
"When the weather is cold, it leads to constriction of the blood vessels. Blood vessels become smaller, it raises the blood pressure, also the blood might become thicker and easier to clot, so that leads to strain on the heart," explained Dube.
He also said, doing physical activities outdoors specific to winter, like shoveling snow, can potentially lead to heart concerns.
"People who are not typically physically active, they work and they don't realize how much effort is there in shoveling snow. They are out of what they usually do and then they get into trouble," said Dube.
That's because shoveling snow can be a strenuous activity on your heart.
A few signs of a heart attack are chest pain, arm pain, and jaw pain. Dube said it's common for women to also have signs that include nausea, vomiting, and weakness.
Signs of a stroke are loss of speech, sudden confusion, weakness on one side of the body, or drooping on one side of the face.
If you notice any signs of a heart attack or stroke, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Sarah James, the owner of Nutrition to Grow in Terre Haute said a great way to begin improving your heart health is tracking your diet.
"Starting to log your food is really eye-opening because you can get an idea of what your daily intake is.// you can look at your day and find out that you're not really consuming any fruits or vegetables, then I think that's a major change that somebody can make," James said.
James also mentioned that weight is not always the reason for heart problems.
"When you're talking about heart health, it's not necessarily your weight that's the problem. Some people [tend] to metabolize very well, but unfortunately, they are eating the wrong foods that are contributing to plaque build-up and that plaque is what's going to put you at risk for high blood pressure and high blood pressure is going to put you at risk for cardiovascular problems," said James.
A few daily steps both Dube and James said you can take to improve your heart health, are incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet, incorporating physical activity into your daily routine, and
Dube said your blood pressure should be 120 by 80, your cholesterol should be less than 200, you should exercise regularly, and eat a healthy diet to keep your BMI less than 25.
The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of activity a week. That's 30-minute workouts five days a week.
For more tips on a healthy lifestyle, visit https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living