13 December 2022
Cold weather may increase the risk of heart failure and heart patients need to be extra cautious during the winter season. Dr. Ankur Ahuja, Senior Interventional Cardiologist, Fortis Hospital, Mohali in an advisory said, “Heart patients should not exert much during the winter season, because any stress on heart can lead to a heart attack. If we compare the trends for Sudden Cardiac Deaths (SCDs), months of January and February this year had higher incidences of cardiac deaths as compared to other months. Cardiac arrests are again on a rise now as the cold wave sets in. During winters – heart rate and blood pressure is usually higher and physical activity also goes down”
The doctor also stressed on the fact that heart patients should be vaccinated for influenza (flu). Influenza-related stress on your body can launch a negative chain of events that builds toward a heart attack. People with heart disease are nearly six times more likely to have a heart attack after coming down with the flu. Post-COVID has also led to an increased number of heart attacks, he added.
Viral infections like the flu also put added stress on your body, which can affect your blood pressure, heart rate, and overall heart function. That can raise your odds of having a heart attack or stroke.
Dr Ahuja shares some tips to be followed for a healthy heart:
-Avoid excessive alcohol and smoking
Excessive alcohol consumption can warm up your body more than required, which can be dangerous when you’re out in the cold. The body adapts to temperatures slowly, so drink in moderation (not more than two drinks a day). Smoking should be completely abstained from. Cigarette smoking is one of the key contributors to heart disease.
Cold temperatures can cause your blood vessels to clamp down. This puts extra stress on the heart and lead to complications. Hence, dress in warm layers before stepping out. While it’s important to dress warmly in cold weather, it’s also important to avoid getting overheated -for example, from physical activity. If you get overheated, your body will need to release the heat. Too much warm clothing may prevent that, causing blood vessels to dilate, which can dramatically lower blood pressure. When blood pressure drops, it can reduce the heart’s blood supply, possibly leading to a heart attack.
-Do indoor exercises
A sedentary lifestyle is one of the key contributing factors towards lifestyle diseases like hypertension and diabetes. However, it may be risky to step out early in the morning in the cold temperature. So, opt for indoor exercises like yoga, or simple routines in your living room. Diet is also important to avoid cardiac issues and we should avoid excessive fat and salt and should eat lots of fruits and vegetables.