Watch Out For Early Symptoms Of Heart Disease This Winter: Expert
The cold temperature puts you at a higher risk of heart disease. There are several factors that contribute to this higher risk. Read here to know the link from expert.
You are at a higher risk of heart disease in winter season
- Unhealthy diet and lifestyle increases heart disease risk
- Regular exercise controls heart disease risk
- Do not ignore the early signs of heart disease
During the winter season, very cold places commonly witness a rise in the number of heart related ailments. There are a number of factors which contribute towards this. Cold temperatures can cause a tightening of the blood vessels, which can lead to higher blood pressure, thereby increasing the risk of someone developing a heart issue. Basically, during winter the body loses heat more rapidly and the heart has to work overtime in order to maintain a healthy body temperature. In case the temperatures drop dangerously low and an individual is at risk of developing hypothermia (body temperature below 35 degree C), it can cause damage to the heart.
People with pre-existing heart conditions, co-morbidities such as obesity and the elderly are at a higher risk of suffering from a heart-related episode during the colder seasons. Quite often, the elderly do not realise the impact of the cold weather on their body till a heart issue occurs and extra precaution is needed to help keep them at a stable body temperature.
The winter season also presents with other problems, for example, it grows darker faster and the daylight hours are lesser. This can also create hormonal changes in the body. Drastic changes in the hormonal levels, for example fluctuations in the stress hormone cortisol can have an impact on the heart. Emotional stress particularly during winter can also cause problems as this leads to an increase in the level of stress hormones, which can cause changes in breathing patterns and lead to heart ailments. Many studies have shown how depression during winters can cause stress and heart issues. If you are alert and more careful around the holiday season, and if you make this self-care a habit, it would reduce your stress as well as the risk of a heart problem.
Sudden changes in lifestyle, for example if someone engages in strenuous physical activity after a long period of stagnation during the lockdown could also have a direct impact on the heart, more so during the colder season. Some people might be returning to gyms or going overboard with physical activities and exercises as things return to normal to make up for the lost time. However be cautious, and take small steps. Physical activity is definitely needed to keep the body and heart well oiled, however do not overdo it with high intensity cardio and heavy weight-lifting. Opt for light cardio, such as jogging, walking up the stairs, Zumba at home, yoga and stretching.
If you are influenced by one or all of these causes, we have to keep in mind that factors like temperature, excessive stress and physical activity can cause heart problems including heart attacks during winter. However, there are many precautions you can take to avoid heart problems in the cold weather:
- Avoid the consumption of excess alcohol; it puts further pressure on the heart which is already under additional stress.
- Wearing the right dress for the right weather is important. It would be helpful to tackle the cold season by wearing thick layers and especially by wearing hats, gloves and heavy socks.
- It might be a good idea to invest in an indoor heater and hot water bags if your place of residence is naturally cold.
- Absorb sunlight whenever possible. Make the effort to keep the body warm and also get your Vitamin D intake by spending time in the sun. Keep 20 minutes aside and stand out on the balcony or the terrace even if the sun is not visible.
- Eat nutritive and fibre rich foods such as bananas, drink hot tea, coffee, root vegetables such as normal or sweet potato, onions, garlic, carrots etc, which help to keep the body warm.
- It is important to wash your hands frequently as respiratory infections can increase the risk of heart attack
- Learn the basics of heart revival from a cardiologist as this can help in saving a person's life during an emergency
- Lookout for early signs of heart problem especially during winter season and consult your doctor on what you should do in winter when you live with a person with symptoms of heart ailment.
(Dr. Divya Marina Fernandes, Interventional Cardiologist, Aster RV Hospital)
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