Shivering: Winter chill can have effects on your body

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – On a chilly, but not brutally cold morning, you may think there's no need to bring the hat or gloves. But leaving the extra layers at home could be a bad idea-- the winter chill can have serious effects on your body.

"The muscles start contracting and that contracts the blood vessels. So most of the blood goes from the extremities like hands and arms and actually goes toward main organs like heart and lungs," said Dr. Anna Vedina with HCA.

That is why our fingers and toes feel numb before other parts of the body. But serious problems can occur even when it's not that cold out. When it's 30 degrees or below, we know it's cold. We throw on the heavy coat, gloves, hat, everything we can to stay warm. But when it's 40 to 50 degrees out we think we can deal with it. But our bodies work harder than most of us realize when we start to shiver.

"People can actually have increase of blood pressure and they can actually have increase in heart rate," Dr. Vedina said.

The temporary higher blood pressure can lead to multiple health issues. This clip from the BBC film "The Weather" explains what happens to thousands of commuters in London each year: "As you shiver blood is starting to thicken and retreat back to your vital organs. As it gets thicker and stickier the nightmare scenario begins. A tiny clot starts to form."

That blood clot could lead to a heart attack or stroke. And it would be one that could have been prevented. I'm not saying you're going to die if you don't dress warm enough. But if dressing a little warmer so you don't shiver could help, why not do it. 

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