Winter season brings several health worries in its wake including ailments associated with cold, increase in asthma attacks or other pulmonary diseases. However, one of the less talked about effects of winters include a spike in the number of heart attacks.
The risk of heart attacks increases in winters as compared to warmer temperatures due to several factors. However, most people remain blissfully unaware of this correlation, putting them at the risk of avoidable health complications, even death. Though it is not understood, exactly why the risk of heart attack increases during winter months, several potential reasons have been offered by the medical community.
Cold weather makes the blood vessels constrict and raises blood pressure. Blood clots are also a common phenomenon during the winter months. People who indulge into heavy exercises during the winter months may trigger plaque rupture which forms the basis of triggering coronary thrombosis.
Studies in several countries have shown that the number of heart attacks and heart attack related deaths are higher in the colder season as compared to the summers. Keeping this in mind, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, Yeshwanthpur is educating people about the need to exercise greater precautions for heart in the winter season.
“Though there is no clear reason yet understood for a rise in heart issues in winter, medical community ascribes a variety of reasons for it. At least in the west there may be over indulgence during holiday season at the expense of one’s exercise routine. People may also delay in seeking medical help in order to avoid disruption of holiday festivities. The same reasons may also contribute to a higher incidence of congestive heart failure (Fluid build-up in the body and lungs due to weak heart) during winter season. Blood vessel constriction increases load on the heart. Also, consumption of excess salt may precipitate heart failure,” says DrPrabhakar Shetty, Consultant Cardiologist, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, Yeshwanthpur.
“These factors can be controlled and prevented if people are aware of health problems in winter and exercise the desired precautions. However, we witness very low levels of awareness among the people about the increased risk of heart problems in winter,” adds DrPrabhakar Shetty.
Many people do not know the dangers of being outdoors in cold weather and do not take necessary precaution like wearing warm clothing to prevent loss of body heat.
Things to Do and Avoid:
- Never step out unprotected. Wear layers of warm clothing to maintain heat. Always wear a head scarf to keep the head and ears covered. Make sure you wear warm socks and gloves to minimize chances of the body losing heat.
- Do not over indulge in alcohol, thinking that it will help you keep warm and cosy. Alcohol may increase a person’s sensation of warmth and may cause them to underestimate the extra strain their body is under, during the cold.
- Do not indulge in heavy physical activities which you normally not do. Over-exhaustion can be doubly harmful in winters. Give yourself a break and take frequent rest so as not to overstress your heart.
- Never take chest discomfort lightly. Even if the pain is not severe immediately approach a doctor and get yourself checked.