Winter poses many risks for patients with existing Cardiovascular diseases. As cold weather reduces the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle, patients are more prone to sudden heart attack. Research shows there are up to 50% more occurrence of heart attack during the winter season as compared to summers, especially during the month of January & February. Most heart attacks happen due to physical exertion and other physical activities. Even walking or running can cause some strain to the heart. If someone is already suffering from any heart disorder, then he/she must consult a physician to know the exact signs and symptoms of heart attack.
It is essential to know the reasons of heart problems during winter:
- The body responds to the cold by constricting superficial blood vessels, which decreases thermal conduction in the skin and subsequently increases arterial blood pressure.
- Clamped blood vessels often lead to shivering and increased heart rate, which raise the metabolic rate and in turn increase the body temperature. While majority of healthy people can tolerate it, people with Atherosclerotic plaques in their coronary arteries may suffer from a heart attack.
- Respiratory tract infections and Influenza also cause heart attack as they increase pressure on the heart thus prompting cardiac problems
Detrimental behavioral changes related to winter that affects the heart, such as drinking, smoking, overeating, sudden physical exertion and not exercising regularly./li>
- During the holiday season one must go easy on high-fat goodies and alcohol at parties, which may easily contribute to the spike in holiday heart attacks.
- With no sweating in the icy temperature, the extra water gets accumulated in lungs leading to symptoms of heart failure
Steps for Prevention:
- People with weak heart should be particularly careful during winter season. Though they must continue to exercise regularly, they should also modify their timings in order to avoid extreme weather during early mornings or late evenings.
- Salt & water intake should be controlled by patients with decreased heart function condition, as there is no loss of either salt or water due to minimum or no sweating
- Regular monitoring of blood pressure is must. High BP is often an indication of heart attack.
- Avoiding infections is another important aspect of prevention. Before the onset of cold season, influenza & pneumonia vaccines should be taken in order to protect oneself from chest infections. If one is already suffering from chest infection, then immediate treatment by a doctor is recommended
- Never skip your prescribed medication. Don’t skip your routine check-ups. In case of chest pain or breathlessness immediately consult a cardiologist
- Don’t give into the temptation of alcohol because it may increase heart rate & ultimately heart problems in form of Atrial Fibrillation which lead to heart failure or even heart attack
- Eliminate bad habits like smoking during winter season. Smoking lets the blood flow into narrowed arteries which causes high shear stress. Additionally, harmful chemicals in tobacco products will have more chances of triggering plaque rupture & acute heart attack
- Consulting a physician before and after the winter season is must. Always keep a supply of prescribe medicines at home