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Like other animals, some human beings tend to enter a form of hibernation during the winter months, and a recently published study by the American Heart Association tells us why that is dangerous. During the winter, the risk of heart attack increases 25 percent, no matter where a person is living in the United States. The study, which examined death certificate data from 2005 through 2008 of seven different locations in the U.S., determined that heart attacks increased anywhere from 26 to 36 percent more than in the summer months.

Local cardiologist Dr. Thomas Haywood with Chesapeake & Washington Heart Care told The Calvert Recorder that while the study showed cardiac rates increasing in the winter months, the study did not point out the reasons why. Haywood offered that during winter, people tend to exercise less and eat more, and, in doing so, often eat food that is unhealthy. He also pointed out viral infections, which are common during winter months, also contribute to cardiac problems.

Haywood offered some common sense tips to battle the risk: eat healthy, exercise more, wash your hands often and cover your cough. He also said, regardless of the season, we can reduce our risks year ’round by stopping smoking, managing high cholesterol and blood sugar and losing weight.

These are very simple tips to avoid becoming a statistic. While the study may have come across as a cause for alarm, we can take it as a reminder that we are indeed mortal, and certain factors beyond our control put us at risk for cardiac issues. But other factors are in our control; armed with awareness, we can at least have a fighting chance to combat the odds.