Each year, around this time of year, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) urges people to take extra care of their hearts. Winter after winter, the UK sees an increase in the number of people who die – and, according to latest 2016 figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), 4,300 of these “excess deaths” are due to coronary heart disease. Interestingly, one of the key findings from the ONS’s latest dataset is that those under 64 were affected more than in previous years.
Experts in the health of people in their middle years are not surprised by these findings. Earlier this year, a report on UK attitudes to healthy aging uncovered the fact that people under 50 worry more about memory loss or joint stiffness in old age than they do about the health of their heart.
And, even though coronary heart disease now counts as the UK’s second-biggest killer behind cancer, in a report on healthy aging, Future-proof your health from the middle years, published by the Health and Food Supplements Information Service (HSIS), dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton says that potential health issues such as these “are being overlooked by too many in their middle years”. She warns: “Without action being taken now by the current middle-years generation, a health crisis is brewing for the future.”
The BHF says that cold weather makes your heart work much harder to keep your body warm. Low temperatures cause blood vessels and arteries to narrow, restricting blood flow and reducing oxygen to the heart. Your heartmust pump harder to circulate blood through these constricted vessels. As a result, blood pressure and heart rate increase, putting an already weakened heart at risk of failure. Blood clots are also more common in cold weather.