Keep warm in winter

 He/she could be suffering from more than just indigestion. Everyone knows winter is the season of flu and colds but what they don’t know is that it’s also the season for heart attacks.

According to Dr Praveen Chandra, interventional cardiologist, “The risk of having a heart attack during the winter months are twice as high as in the summer. And a heart attack in the winter is also more likely to be fatal than a heart attack during any other time of year.”

“The reason why heart attacks are more common during the winter than other months is because the cold causes a rise in blood pressure along with increasing levels of proteins that raise the chances of a blood clot. When the temperature is low, the heart works harder to maintain body heat and this in turn causes the arteries to tighten, which restricts blood flow and reduces oxygen supply to the heart. When combined, all of these factors could trigger a heart attack, especially in the elderly or those with existing heart problems,” explains Dr Chandra.

Lack of sunlight is another reason why heart attacks occur more often during the winter. It’s a fact that less daylight in the winter can worsen mood problems and increase depression risk.

Studies have looked at heart-attack patients and found they have lower levels of vitamin D than healthy people. The flu is another culprit responsible for surge in heart attacks during winter. So, bundle yourself up this winter, so that your body temperature does not go down too much, advise doctors.

According to healthcare experts, one must drink at least 10 glasses of water to keep dehydration at bay. If you are diabetic and/or hypertensive, get an influenza shot to lower the chances of a heart attack. Keep blood pressure in check and consult a doctor if there are variations.

“Get your physician to review your medications for hypertension. In case you feel any giddiness or heaviness, consult a doctor immediately. Do not over exert if you do not regularly exercise. Do not drink too much alcohol and eat calorie-dense foods. Avoid morning walks if you suffer from uncontrolled high blood pressure” says Dr Atul Mathur, a Delhi-based cardiologist.

Stay warm as the body’s automatic response to low temperature is to reduce blood flow by narrowing the width of blood vessels. Individuals with arteries clogged by plaque run a much higher risk of getting a vessel blocked. “Staying warm during cold spells is important to avoid high blood pressure and clogged arteries. Take vitamins, especially vitamin D, as heart attack patients usually have decreased levels of vitamin D (derived from sunlight) compared to healthy people,” adds Dr Mathur.  

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