A new study shows that the number of heart attacks jumps 40% in winter, compared to summer. So, what is it about cooler weather that’s so bad for your heart? Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself:

  • Cold air. A British study found that your heart-attack risk increases 1% with every one-degree drop in air temperature. That’s because when you inhale cold air, you chill blood vessels around your airways – causing them to constrict. Researchers say that quadruples the odds of dangerous blood clots forming! The fix? Wear a scarf loosely around your face when you’re out in the cold. That’ll help warm icy air before it reaches your lungs.

  • Less daylight. Believe it or not, being in the sun lowers your heart-attack risk by 45%! That’s because sunlight provides natural vitamin D, a nutrient that helps regulate blood pressure. So, to make up for the darker days of winter, experts recommend having an egg for breakfast every day. Or, add more fish to your diet, like salmon, tuna, or mackerel, which is loaded with vitamin D.

And here’s a surprising reason heart attacks are more common in winter: you didn’t get a flu shot. According to a study from the Texas Heart Institute, at least 90,000 heart-attack deaths could be prevented each year, if all North Americans got a flu shot! That’s because the flu virus triggers inflammation, which disrupts healthy blood flow. In other words, get a flu shot – your heart health depends on it!