As the temperature starts to fall, the blood pressure and cholesterol levels start shooting up, thus putting you at an increased risk of a heart attack.
New Delhi (India), February 3: Winter is the time for celebrations and fun activities – but not for your heart! Besides the common cold and flu, the winters bring several possible threats to heart patients, which may even turn fatal.
How Does the Cold Weather Affect Your Heart?
· In winter, heart has to work twice as hard to pump oxygen throughout the body to keep you warm while the cold temperature causes the arteries to constrict, thus restricting the flow of blood and reducing the supply of oxygen to the heart muscles. Due to this, the chances of developing blood clots and having a stroke or heart attack are higher during winter.
· As the temperature starts to fall, the blood pressure and cholesterol levels start shooting up, thus putting you at an increased risk of a heart attack.
· Blood volume is also higher in winter, unlike in summer when we experience more sweating. More fluid being retained inside the body also leads to higher blood pressure.
· The winter months also bring behavioural changes eg lower levels of physical activity and increased calorie rich food leading to weight gain which can contribute to higher chances of developing complications that may lead to a heart attack. People may also increase their food consumption which further compounds the weight gain issue.
Common Winter Heart Conditions
This refers to a medical condition wherein the body loses heat faster than it can generate. Hypothermia causes the body temperature to plummet below the normal range i.e. 98.6F.
Signs of hypothermia include:
· Fatigue, exhaustion
· Slurred speech
Angina is itself a symptom of Coronary Artery Disease, which occurs when the heart does not receive sufficient oxygenated blood. Due to restricted blood flow in winter, a person may experience angina pectoris.
Angina symptoms include:
· Chest pain and discomfort that lasts several minutes
· A squeezing pressure in the chest
· Tightness or heaviness in the chest
· Sweating and shortness of breath
Tips to Ensure Heart Health in Winter
· Stay indoors on cold days and keep your home warm. You can use an electric blanket or a hot water bottle at home.
· Stay active, and move around more often even when you are not performing strenuous exercises.
· Wear warm, thin layers of clothing when stepping outdoors.
· Have a warm bowl of soup or broth to warm yourself up.
· Eat a balanced diet comprising leafy greens and seasonal fruits, whole grains, healthy fats etc.
· Cut back on alcohol and carbonated drinks.
· Quit smoking if you haven’t yet.
· Exercising regularly, eating right and maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help to improve your heart health not only during winter but in all seasons.
About the Author – Dr. Viveka Kumar – Principal Director & Chief of Cath Labs (Pan Max) – Cardiac Sciences, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket
The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only. We do not endorse or encourage the consumption or subscription of any products or ideas mentioned. It is strongly advised to consult with a physician before considering any ideas or products discussed in this article.