Is a Cold Home Bad for Our Hearts?

A home that is troubled by sub-temperatures can affect many aspects of our physical and mental health. A cold home can be the cause of various heart conditions developing and a factor that worsens existing conditions.

One of these impacted conditions could potentially be cardiovascular.

What is a cardiovascular condition?

Cardiovascular disease or CVD is a generalisation for conditions that affect the heart. Sadly, CVD is one of the biggest causes of death and disability in the UK.

Types of CVD include:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Strokes and TIAs
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Aortic disease

Why does living in a cold home impact our hearts?

Consistent cold air can inflame the lungs and impede the function of the body’s circulation.

All it takes is the temperature to drop below 12*C for the cold weather to impact our health, but the issue can vary depending on where you live in the UK and can be influenced by home insulation.

Our blood vessels and the Cold

The heart and blood vessels are constantly adapting to the environment and the inner workings of our bodies. This keeps the flow of blood running to different parts of the body to ensure they are getting oxygen and nutrients.

When we become cold, our nervous system will act to prevent our core body temperature from dropping and keep our vital organs functioning.

During cold periods, the blood vessels in our skin, fingers, and toes become narrow, so less heat is lost. This narrowing which is known as vasoconstriction is the cause of more pressure being built in the rest of the circulation.

This leads to the heart working harder to pump blood around, increasing heart rate and blood pressure. This is a normal process, but the strain can lead to heart symptoms for those who already have an existing condition.

What can be done to protect our hearts in the winter cold?

There are some quick tips you can employ in your everyday life that help protect our hearts from a cold home courtesy of the British Heart Foundation (BHF):

  1. The busiest room in your home should be kept to a temperature of 18*C. This will be made easier with good-quality insulation. Layer up when at home with socks, jumpers, dressing gowns, and blankets. A hot water bottle is the perfect way of keeping warm in bed at night.
  2. You can also wear a few thin layers, rather than one thick layer. This traps the heat.
  3. If you can, keep moving while you’re indoors. This will build up your core temperature and boost the immune system.
  4. Eating warm meals and healthy hot drinks gives your body the energy it needs to keep you warm. Homemade vegetable soup can be a healthy meal. BHF have a list of healthy dinners you could make on cold winter nights.
  5. If you find yourself with angina, loosely wrap a scarf around your mouth and nose to breathe in warm air. This may help to reduce your symptoms when they worsen in the winter.
  6. If you feel a cough or cold coming, try to get plenty of rest and drink a good number of fluids. Seek advice from your GP or pharmacist if you plan on taking any over-the-counter medicines as they may not be suitable with any medication you are already taking.

Upgrading your home’s efficiency

The energy efficiency of your home could be the leading factor in causing a cold home. Depending on the property’s age, it is possible that your insulation could be of poor quality and allow a large amount of heat to escape from your property.

As well as insulation problems, an old inefficient boiler model will cause problems for you. An out-of-date system may be struggling to heat your home therefore a newer model or renewable heating system could be needed.

Suffering from financial stress and fuel poverty can also impact your ability to have a warm home.

ECO4

The energy company obligation is a government-backed scheme where obligated energy suppliers must provide consumers living in fuel poverty with home energy upgrades to ease their financial stress

The Great British Insulation Scheme

This scheme aims to improve the energy efficiency of homes across England, Scotland, and Wales. By installing insulation measures such as cavity wall insulation, solid wall insulation, and loft insulation.

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme

Old inefficient boilers can be upgraded to modern energy-efficient models with this scheme. Households that qualify can receive financial help with the scheme and begin to reduce their energy bills and reduce carbon emissions.

Summary

Our body’s natural response to the cold can cause extra strain on our hearts that can lead to heart conditions and worsening existing ones, thanks to a cold home.

Cold homes can be a product of various factors such as property insulation quality, fuel poverty, and even heating system inefficiency.

We can actively protect ourselves from the cold with simple everyday practices and applying for government-backed schemes that aim to improve home temperatures and efficiency.

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