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Cut down stroke risk this winter

Dr Subhash Chandra Dec 22 2017, 21:35 IST
Heat attack

Heat attack

Heart diseases should never be taken lightly, especially during winters, as chilly weather can put extra strain to your heart and the risk increases for those who are already suffering from heart-related ailments, especially for people with high blood pressure and earlier strokes.

Winter brings down core body temperature, so the body tries to conserve heat by shrinking its blood vessels, resulting in high blood pressure and high oxygen requirements for heart.

Thus high BP and heart attacks are common in cold weathers and cases increase as the temperature drops.

This is more common among elderly, kids and those who have undergone angioplasty, bypass or have suffered heart attacks in the past.

Here are ways in which you can maintain your heart health in winters:
* Avoid strenuous activities: Winter sometimes causes us to overexert. Exertion increases the heart's demand for oxygen. Many of us have blockages in arteries, which we are unaware of. Hence one must go for less intensive physical activities and exercises.
* Watch out for influenza: A bout of seasonal flu can trigger heart attack in people who are already at risk for heart disease. Influenza and pneumonia are more common in winter months. Avoid coming down with flu by washing your hands often with soap and getting a flu shot. If you do get flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, or body aches, call your doctor and take antiviral medication if it's prescribed. Drink plenty of fluids and fruits that are rich in water content.
* Avoid gaining weight: Cold weathers tend to make you lethargic. However, it is necessary to stick to your regular exercise routine. Put in the extra effort to warm-up before working out. Exercise helps weight loss and it can reduce blood pressure.
* Don't skip meals: During winter, people end up eating more than they are normally used to. Eating a large meal at one go can put an extra load on your heart. Instead, eat smaller meals at regular intervals. Dietary changes can reduce the probability of heart attacks by 40%. Avoid starving. Similarly, it is important to consult your doctors before winter and take the right kind of medications and getting your prescription filled on time.
* Keep warm: If you are heading out, keep your mouth covered with a scarf so warm air hits your lungs first when you breathe in. For those who are travelling from a warm to a cold climate, pack body warmers, as research suggests a dip in temperature from what you're used to may increase your risk for stroke by 7%, and heart attack by 12%.

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