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How can you care for your heart health during winters?

By Dr Zakia Khan, Senior Consultant-Interventional Cardiology, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan 

As temperatures begin to fall, your risk of a Heart Attack begins to climb, yes certainly! Cold weather can create a perfect storm of risk factors for cardiovascular problems. Here is what you should know about your heart health.

How does cold weather affect heart health?

 Cold weather can decrease the supply of oxygen-rich blood to your Heart muscle. And it can put you in situations that force your heart to work harder; as a result, your heart demands more oxygen-rich blood. Lesser supply of oxygen to the heart coupled with a greater demand for oxygen by the Heart-sets you up for a Heart Attack. The cold can also increase the risk of developing blood clots, which again could lead to a Heart Attack or Stroke.

Cold weather induces exertion and lead to heart failure. 

Cold weather makes your heart work harder to keep your body warm. Your blood vessels constrict so the Heart can concentrate on pumping blood to your brain and other major organs. Hypothermia can set-in if your body temperature drops below 95 degrees, it can cause serious damage to the heart muscle. Moreover, walking more rapidly than usual is common when the wind is blowing in your face. Just being out in the cold pushes us to exert ourselves.

 Can the flu affect my heart health? 

A bout of seasonal flu can trigger a Heart Attack in people already at risk for Heart Disease. It causes fever, which makes your heart beat faster (raising its demand for oxygen). The flu also can cause dehydration, which can reduce your blood pressure (lowering the heart’s supply of oxygen). Again, when demand exceeds supply, it may lead to a Heart Attack. If you have a heart condition, it is recommended that you talk to your GP about getting a flu vaccine.

 Who is most at risk?

 Elderly people and very young children find it harder to regulate their temperature. This puts them at higher risk in extreme temperatures. While protecting your own health, always remember to keep an eye on elderly and vulnerable friends, family & neighbours during colder days to make sure they are warm and comfortable. Make sure that you can recognize the symptoms and signs of a Heart attack and immediately report it to a medical expert.

Don’t ignore the warning signs of heart health.

 If you feel severe chest pain which is unbearable and radiating to your neck, shoulder and hand, it is the most common symptom of a Heart Attack. Symptoms may vary for men and women. Men occasionally complain of nausea and dizziness, whereas women complain of atypical symptoms like dizziness and unexplained fatigue.

Stay healthy, maintain your heart health, live an active life and follow the below-mentioned tips to safeguard your heart health this winter season:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly for at least 30 minutes
  • Manage your stress
  • Maintain your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • If you feel something irregular in your body, meet your physician
  • Avoid overindulging during festivals; eat light and healthy meals
best food for heart health

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