Cold Weather Increases Stroke Risk: Expert Decodes The Link
The cold weather puts you at a higher risk of stroke. There are various factors which trigger the risk. Read here to know how.
You are at a higher risk of stroke during the winter season, says expert
- You are at a higher risk of stroke during the winter season
- Stay warm during the winter season to control stroke risk
- Regular exercise can help you stay fit and control disease risk
Amid the global pandemic where everyone is trying to defeat the virus, winters are a prone season for various health ailments. In addition to the temperature drop, the day-to-day increasing air pollution has also triggered various health issues. Every year it has been seen that the dipping temperatures are responsible for a rise in number of cardiovascular problems, among which stroke is one of critical challenges. Stroke, which can be because of blockage causing paralysis or can even burst leading to bleeding, is seen more commonly during the winters. You might be surprised to know that stroke is recorded to be the third leading cause of death and disability and WHO estimates suggest that one in four people may suffer stroke over a lifetime.
Various studies also suggest that there are more chances of stroke during the winter months. Several studies suggest that during extreme cold conditions, the risk of getting a stroke attack increases by 80% particularly when temperature dips below 15 degree Celsius. Taking care of this issue is very important because this may lead to more chances of this deadly disease.
Stroke - a major threat during winters
Various data suggests that annually in India, on an average around 15 lakh patients suffer from some type of stroke attack and around one-third of them are left with stroke-related disability. Therefore, it becomes all the more important for us to understand what doubles up the risk of stroke during winter? One of the prime reasons can be attributed that during the cold seasons the blood vessels constrict, which leads to the increase in blood pressure, which means that the blood has to be really pumped harder in order to travel around the body, making it one of the major factors for the onset of stroke.
Also, there are various changes in the chemical balance in your body during the winters including cholesterol levels and some other factors that increases the chances of clotting. Changes in the physical activity which usually decreases during the winter months as well as weight gain can play a role. These are probably the reasons why number of stroke cases goes up by 11 per cent during winters.
Another challenge which the population is facing, particularly this year is the spreading of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic. It is now also known that Covid-19 infection raises the chances of stroke and sometimes it is also witnessed that Covid-19 patients may be present with stroke. Stroke in these patients is again due to the changes in their blood vessels and some of the patients with severe Covid-19 infection have raised chances of clotting as well. The combination of winters with Covid-19 is a potentially deadly combination for the Indian Population, which is further made worse in the cities by the rising air pollution. Patients with pre-existing conditions like diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol levels, age above 65 years are more at risk of this problem.
Though anyone is susceptible to get a stroke, however, people with existing cardiac problem, high blood pressure problem, smokers, obese and elderly need to be watchful as with the weather getting cold, they are the ones more vulnerable to get a stroke. In fact, such patients have a higher risk of even dying from heart disease as well.
How to control the risk of stroke in winters?
In order to curb down the chances for stroke and other cardiovascular events, it is strongly recommended to regularly monitor your blood pressure during this changing weather. And even with mild changes or rise in the blood pressure, one need to immediately consult the doctor who can prescribe an adjustment in the medications.
It is also advised to keep warm and avoid sudden exposure to severe cold temperatures as the risk of stroke remains for many days after the exposure.
Keeping in mind the issues of Covid-19 and rising pollution, one should probably maintain the recommended levels of regular physical activity and avoid sudden changes in diet.
(Dr. Vipul Gupta, Director, Neurointervention, Artemis - Agrim Institute of neurosciences, Gurgaon)
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