Dr. Niraj Kumar
New Delhi, January 7-The winter season can be busy and exciting, with family get-togethers, holiday parties people have plenty of distractions keeping them from focusing on their health. Often, given the weather, exercise and a healthy diet is usually sacrificed for warm nights spent indoors on the couch and comfort food.
People usually associate winter as cold and flu season, but many don’t know that it’s also the prime season for heart attacks too, especially if you already have heart disease or have suffered a previous heart attack.
The cold weather poses a challenge on people with existing cardiac problems such as cardiovascular diseases, arrhythmia, angina, heart dysfunction, and more. This is usually due to low temperature and common breathing issues associated with the season.
Here are few steps in which to keep their heart healthy even during winters:
Active Body, Active Heart- Regular exercise should be done to keep the body warm and active. However, people should avoid sudden unaccustomed exertion, in extreme cold weather, particularly if have compromised cardio-pulmonary status. Staying active helps our system to maintain a normal blood flow throughout the body, therefore, maintaining the normal temperature.
Be Aware of Hypothermia – Hypothermia means the body temperature has fallen below 35 degrees Celsius or about 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It occurs when your body can’t produce enough energy to keep the internal body temperature warm enough. It can be life threatening. Symptoms include lack of coordination, mental confusion, slowed reactions, shivering and sleepiness. To prevent hypothermia, dress in layers of warm clothing, which traps air between layers forming a protective insulation. Wear a hat or cap (cover head & neck) because much of your body’s heat can be lost through your head.
Know the Symptoms – Learn the heart attack warning signs and listen to your body but remember this: Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, have it checked. Minutes matter! Fast action can save lives. A heart burn, stomach-ache, nausea, pain in the legs, breathlessness, can indicate towards a brewing problem and it is essential that people are mindful.
Keep Yourself Warm – Keeping oneself warm during winters is imperative for everyone, especially when it comes to the ones suffering from cardiac ailment and hypertension. The low temperature, results in the constriction of the blood vessels which further results into reduced oxygenated blood supply to the body parts. Apart from this, the heart is also under immense pressure to work at a higher pace to maintain blood flow and body temperature.
Check What You Drink and When – Don’t drink alcoholic beverages before or immediately after exercise. Alcohol may increase a person’s sensation of warmth and may cause them to underestimate the extra strain.
Consult a Doctor– If You Have a Medical concern or if you are experiencing symptoms of a medical condition, don’t think twice before visiting a doctor. It is essential that people understand the normal aspects about the own health and take any changes seriously. Majority of cardiac arrest cases deteriorate due to delay in medical intervention. This is a concern nationally because this indicates at a lack of awareness among people
(The writer Associate Director, Cardiology, Max Hospital, Gurgaon)