Your body adjusts your blood flow depending on your surrounding climate and temperature. It perpetually works to make sure that it maintains the optimal temperature conditions inside the body so the biological processes keep working the way they always have. The process of maintaining constant body temperature and heat is called homeostasis—it involves constricting or expanding blood vessels to capture or release heat.
Homeostasis as a Way to Protect the Body from Cold
Heat travels from hotter regions to relatively colder regions as a general rule. Your body also works according to the same principles, where it loses heat in lower temperatures. Every inch of your skin acts as a conductor for heat and loses it to the surrounding environment, much faster in cold climates than in hot climates.
In the absence of homeostasis, your body will continue losing heat until you become hypothermic. Hypothermia often leads to frost bite and brain death because your bodily processes slow down so much that it stops working—this is one reason why people feel very sleepy when they get hypothermia. The body stops this from happening by cutting off the blood supply near the skin’s surface to prevent the loss of heat from the body—it does so by constricting the blood vessels near the skin.
This way, the heart can keep sending blood to the more important regions of the body like the lungs and the brain so they have enough heat to keep internal biochemical processes working. The question for us, however, is whether the constriction of blood vessels can be a bad thing even in cold weather?
Effects of the Cold on Cardiovascular Health
The constriction of blood vessels during homeostasis also includes those around the heart itself. Once blood supply to the heart is reduced, it needs to work harder to maintain steady blood flow to the rest of the body. This increases your heart rate and blood pressure, which increases the chances of developing a blood clot, having a stroke or a heart attack.
Maintaining Healthy Blood Flow in the Cold
To reduce the risks to your cardiovascular health in cold weather, you should try your best to maintain a constant body temperature—preferably stay warm. If you can avoid the cold, then your body won’t need to constrict blood vessels and your heart won’t have to work as hard. You should always cover up, stay indoors, avoid physical exertion and drink warm liquids to keep your body temperature within a healthy range. Additionally, you could also take supplements to improve blood circulation and cardiovascular health—like Vasculex.
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