Heart attacks can happen to anyone at any time and it is important to learn about the warning signs so as to prevent fatality. But, the one thing that people have wanted to know is whether or not heart attacks are governed by the weather, and if the answer is yes, are they more common during a particular season?
Dr Balbir Singh, chairman, Cardiac Sciences, Max Hospital, New Delhi, says while winter is often considered a preferred season by many, it is often when most heart attacks occur. “Not just respiratory illnesses and influx of viruses, heart diseases, too, can cause worry during winters. While sudden heart attacks and ailments require acute care, winters are also the time to be more cautious than ever. The season may spell trouble for people with heart disease as several studies suggest an increase in cardiovascular events like heart attack, heart failure, stroke, and arrhythmia during winter,” he says.
Why do winters make your heart vulnerable?
According to the doctor, one of the primary reasons is our body’s physiology and how a drop in temperature impacts the heart. “The body’s biological state gets hampered by activating the sympathetic nervous system which in turn narrows the blood vessels present in our body. This is known as ‘vasoconstriction’. During this process, the blood pressure levels increase as they stress the heart to pump blood to various parts of the body.
“In the colder months, there can be a wide difference in temperatures, and the heat produced to keep your biological systems warmer can pose a risk in extreme conditions and cause ‘hypothermia’, which can damage the heart’s blood vessels, he explains.
What should heart patients keep in mind?
For those already suffering from heart-related issues, the danger is more imminent. The heart must work more to maintain a balance in temperatures and since oxygen requirements surge, it can trigger heart attack in severe cases.
“Patients diagnosed with poor heart function pose a more severe risk of fluid accumulation in the lungs; this can cause issues where the person may find it hard to breathe normally. Also, since respiratory illnesses are pretty common during this period, they can put more stress by increasing the overall heart rate for more oxygen,” explains Dr Singh.
Things to do for a healthy heart during winter:
* Keep your body warm by wearing sweaters, jackets, and warmers to help the body regulate body temperature more effectively.
* It is essential to refrain from excessive intake of alcohol or smoking.
* In winters, people crave for cholesterol-rich foods that can hamper heart health; a balanced diet should be taken.
* Engage in physical exercises like running, cycling, etc., daily to improve cardiovascular activity. Taking steps to manage your stress healthily, decreasing workload, and completing your daily sleep cycles will ensure the same.
* If you suffer from other diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc., it is vital to monitor all factors that can hinder your body’s functions and aggravate cardiac issues.
* Make it a routine to visit your cardiologist for regular health check-ups. Early diagnosis can help you stay on top of any underlying issues.
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