New Delhi ,
Temperatures in the city drops abysmally in winters and this can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, especially in elderly people. Several factors such as drop in body temperature, lower level of vitamin D in the body and an increase of blood viscosity may heighten the risk of cardiovascular diseases during the winter season.
Apart from these, sudden dip in temperature, high winds and rain often reduce body temperature in winters. This causes a sudden spike in the blood pressure which may lead to a heart attack. The fall in body temperature in winter may increase blood viscosity which again increases the risk of clot formation in blood, slowing or obstructing its flow.
“Hypertension, obesity, and diabetes are some of the known reasons of heart attack. However, cold weather may also make your heart work up more and this makes anyone over 40 years susceptible to heart attack. Besides, poor lifestyle due to smoking habits, intake of alcohol and high-calorie but nutritionally poor food also makes the heart weak. Now, with increasing age, the risk factors become more dangerous,” says Dr. Sanjay Mittal, Consultant-Cardiologist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Ghaziabad.
The risk of heart attacks is the most after two weeks of exposure to cold weather in people in the age group of 75-84, as well as those with coronary heart diseases. The most common symptoms of heart attack are chest pain and chest heaviness. However, it can be accompanied by pain in one or both arms, jaw, back, stomach or neck. The diabetic, elderly and women are more likely to experience a heart attack that does not manifest with typical symptoms but may have other symptoms like sudden onset of shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and sometimes sweating.
“Indians are more prone to the disease globally and the onset age is usually 5-10 years lower the global average. Here, heart attacks occur even at lower cholesterol levels and the disease follows a more severe and malignant course – three times higher rate of second heart attack and twice more likely to die than white people,”says Dr. Sanjay.
It is advisable to avoid lifting of heavy weights as it puts stress on the heart. Beside toxic air, people should especially be aware of changing temperatures: Moving out from the comfortable room temperature to the chilly outside may cause strain on the body’s metabolism. Keep an eye on the cholesterol and sugar and avoid smoking and excessive alcohol.