CARTHAGE, MO.--- Carthage resident Cletis Richards knows firsthand the importance of checking his heart health.
"I've had a continuing issue with a heart valave problem," states Cletis Richards.
Today he is undergoing one of his regular 6 month checkups.
"It can change so drastically so it's better to stay on top of things than change if something happens," states Richards.
Freeman Heart and Vascular Institute Cardiologist, Ryan Longnecker says he sees more patients come in as the winter months settle in.
"They come in with upper respiratory infections and our heart attack trend actually goes up at this time of the year as well," states Ryan Longnecker, Freeman Cardiologist.
A study presented at the American Heart Association's annual meeting, shows the number of deaths from hearth attacks, heart failure, cardiovascular disease, and stroke went up from 26% in the summer to 36% in the winter regardless of where you live in the United States.
"Wasn't necessarily climate related. More the fact that people were depressed and not taking medications and there were more upper respiratory infections going around," states Longnecker.
Longnecker says they see more patients come in after the first big snowfall.
"When the snow comes. People that aren't active usually go out and try to shovel the driveway. When that happens it is a very big stress on their heart and sometimes it does tip into the heart attack," states Longnecker.
He recommends thinking long term to keep your heart in check.
"Take your medications year round. Try to stay active year round, eat healthy year round, make sure you do get your flu shots and wash your hands routinely and make sure you take care of your family members," states Longnecker.
Freeman cardiologists recommend get stress tests as part of your yearly check up to understand how to prevent added stress to your heart.