There is an emerging body of successful research that has shown the good effects a can have on a person. Beneath the uncomfortable layer of the extreme cold lies surprising benefits that people did not know about.
These findings have caused a bit of a stir, with two sides forming from it. One side swears by these benefits. However, the other side is sceptical about it. Part of it is because of the discomfort. Another part is due to the long-standing belief that these types of showers bring about negative effects.
In this article, we’ll take a look at whether cold showers cause heart attacks.
What Good Does A Cold Shower Do?
Researchers have found numerous benefits that these showers can give. Let’s check them out.
The first thing these showers can improve is a person’s metabolism. This is mainly due to how the body reacts to extreme cold.
When the body comes in contact with extreme cold, it does its best to keep the core body temperature up. This is needed because the many vital organs need to run hot in order to function and keep people alive.
Thus, the body’s reaction to the cold is to burn off energy in an effort to keep warm. The so-called kindle for these burning calories in our bodies.
It should be noted that this burning won’t be as effective as diet and exercise. Despite that, it is still a great boost to the metabolism.
Another benefit we have is increased circulation. Just like the previous point, another way the body handles cold temperatures is by increasing the blood flow in the body.
Blood runs hot. Not too hot, but just enough to keep the body’s core temperature in the right zone. That is why the body increases circulation to ensure that vital organs stay warm.
As a bonus, this increased circulation also makes your skin look healthy.
However, just like the previous example, a cold shower is not the most effective way to improve circulation. Light exercise will do the trick as well.
Improves Immune System
Next up, we have an improved immune system. It is ironic that a cold shower may help people resist the common cold. Data from the research has shown that these types of showers improve the immune system. It showed a 30% decrease in people calling in sick from work.
In addition, another study showed that these showers could also help increase the rate of survival from cancer.
Improves Mental Health
Straying away from physical improvements, research has shown that these types of showers also help to improve mental health. This practice is now commonly known as hydrotherapy.
In this type of therapy, patients take a cold shower for just five minutes a couple of days a week. The result was an alleviation of symptoms related to clinical depression.
This works because the cold water sends several electric impulses to the brain. These jolts make people feel more alert and clear. It also releases endorphins, the so-called happy hormone.
A Caveat to the Benefits
We’ve just seen several of the benefits these types of showers give people. However, they must be taken with a grain of salt. A caveat must be made.
While numerous benefits can possibly be gained, these should not be treated as the holy grail. Whether it be improved circulation, metabolism, and mental health, the frigid shower only serves as a supplement to these improvements. As we have stated, there are much better ways to improve all of these things, so depending on the cold shower solely for these benefits is not recommended.
How Does It Affect the Heart?
Now that we’ve learned more about the benefits these showers bring, it is time to answer the question at hand: do they cause heart attacks? Let’s take a look at what these heart problems are first and then, the possible effects of frigid showers on them.
A Look at a Heart Attack
In the medical world, heart attacks are commonly known as myocardial infarctions. This happens when part of the heart is not getting enough blood. These could either be due to blockages or because the blood flow is weak.
Apart from that, there are many things that may cause it. It could include genetic risks, high cholesterol, and a hyper or hypotensive condition. Combine these with other risk factors such as one’s lifestyle, age, and anything that may set off an attack.
Can it Trigger A Heart Attack?
The answer to our question is yes. For people with an increased risk factor or those susceptible to having heart problems, cold showers can absolutely trigger a heart attack.
How Does it Happen?
One study saw that these showers can cause heart problems when the weather is hot. This is because people are more likely to take a refreshing cool shower when it is hot.
In this case, the muscles around blood vessels can tighten. This is called vasoconstriction and can restrict the amount of blood that gets to the heart.
In addition, sudden exposure to cold water can cause cold shock. When this happens, the body starts to panic and people struggle to breathe. These introduce irregularities to the rhythm of the heart leading to heart problems like heart attacks.
This is true for people who are at risk for heart problems, and for healthy people who show no signs at all.
How to Shower Safely?
If cold showers continue to pique your interest, but you are fearful of possible heart problems, then you shouldn’t worry. There is a safe way to do it. The key here is to ease into it.
From Normal to Low
For starters, take a normal shower. When the shower is nearing its end, it is time for you to start lowering the temperature. Lower it to a point where it starts to feel uncomfortable. This is where you want to be to receive the benefits. Once there, stand underneath the water for two or three minutes.
Dealing With Discomfort
If the cold water is making your body react negatively, one good way around it is to focus on your breathing. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus your attention on the air moving in and out of your body.
You’ll want to continue this practice for a few days. With each day, you want to take baby steps towards improvement. The next day, you may want to make it a little colder. You’ll also want to stand under it a little bit longer.
Pretty soon, your body will adjust and you may even begin to enjoy them.
Clear it With Your Doctor
If you are really attracted to cold showers but aren’t sure whether they are safe for you, then the best thing to do is clear them with your doctor. Through a series of tests, they’ll be able to tell you whether you have heart problems or are susceptible to them.
Even if you do, you may still get the green light from them. The important thing is that the doctor gives the go ahead.
One of the best ways to face these uncertain situations though is to be prepared. Learning more about first aid puts you in the right frame of mind, with the right skills, to help out in a pinch.
Learn more through CPR First Aid’s Liverpool course.