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Chest Pain During Cold Weather Exercise

If you develop chest pain when you exercise in cold weather, and not when you exercise in warm weather, check with your doctor. You could have heart disease.

The blood supply to your heart comes from arteries on its outside surface. The blood that is pumped inside your heart's chambers brings almost no oxygen to your heart muscle. If you have arteriosclerosis, fatty plaques in your heart's arteries restrict the flow of blood to your heart, and therefore, your heart has to pump faster to bring more oxygen to your heart. Cold wind blowing on your face constricts your blood vessels and raises your blood pressure, which increases the resistance against the flow of blood so your heart has to work harder to pump blood through your body. It also slows your heart rate so that less blood is pumped to your heart muscle. A harder working heart requires increased flow of blood, but a slower heart rate brings less blood to the heart. The heart suffers from lack of oxygen and hurts.

While freezing your face slows your heart and can cause chest pain, freezing your fingers makes your heart beat faster and brings more oxygen to your heart. Putting your fingers in cold water may not cause chest pain, while exposing your face to a cold wind may do so. If you develop chest pain in cold weather, check with your doctor for heart disease. Cover your face with a scarf or wear a balaclava when you go out into the cold.

By Gabe Mirkin, M.D., for CBS Radio News

June 4th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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