Don't ignore heart's warning signs this winter
First Published Dec 16, 2020, 3:21 PM IST
The onset of winters brings with it health issues one must never ignore. Among those is the risk of cardiac issues. While you need to take precautions in a cold environment, precautions are especially needed if you have a heart problem. Dr Davinder Singh Chadha, professor and senior consultant-cardiology at Manipal Hospitals in Old Airport Road, Bengaluru gives you more insight.
What is the correlation between winters and cardiac issues?
In winters, the lower temperatures pose the risk for cardiovascular disease. Cold weather decreases the supply of oxygen rich blood to the heart muscle due to constriction of the blood vessels of heart.
Risk factors like obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, pre-existing heart conditions, smoking can further aggravate the condition. In winters one must eat normal healthy diet along with nuts and avoid food rich in saturated fats (ghee, butter, coconut oil) and trans-fat (found in cookies, cakes and chips and processed food).
Some amount of saturated fat consumption is healthy for heart but foods rich in trans-fat are best avoided as it is devastating for cardiac health.
How can one keep the heart hale and healthy during winters?
One should adhere to healthy life style in winters with few precautions. Avoid going out in extreme low temperatures. Strenuous exercises should be avoided early in the morning. A warm up inside the house is a must before stepping out.
Some form of exercise is a must as lack of it can interfere in the blood circulation. Always cover yourself in layers to avoid hypthermia. Care should be taken to remove the layer only after the sweat has dried off completely. Consumptions of hot liquids should be kept optimum to prevent dehydration.
In those with advanced heart disease the quantity of fluid consumption should be strictly as per the advice of physician. Winters tend to increase the blood pressure so a periodic visit to the doctor is a must. In addition those with advance cardiac disease should protect themselves from seasonal flu and take vaccine for the same if prescribed by the physician.
Does modern age lifestyle aggravate risk of heart attack?
Modern age lifestyle has contributed majorly to increase in the risk of heart attack especially in young adults below 40. There is lot of stress both at workplace and in personal front.
Work pressure performance, long working hours, irregular sleep pattern, commuting in traffic all takes the toll on one's health. Long working hours forces one to irregular meal timings and consumption of unhealthy food rich in trans-fat adding to the risk of heart attack.
In addition, a lot youngsters take to smoking and drinking to combat stress and depression. The release of stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol during the stressful period increases the risk of having a heart attack.
What are the symptoms of heart ailments one shouldn't ignore during winters?
Lower temperatures in winters cause arteries to constrict, leading to reduced oxygen supply and restricted blood flow. In addition, the work load on the heart increases as it has to pump more blood to keep the body warm.
More attacks happen in the morning as due to shorter days one tends to overexert during the day. The sign and symptoms of heart disease remain the same: pain or discomfort in the chest that can sometimes feel like squeezing or pressure; pain elsewhere in the body, including the arms, back, neck, or jaw; shortness of breath
Feeling lightheaded or nauseous
These should not be ignored as there is a tendency to attribute them to cold weather
What are the common misconceptions surrounding heart issues?
I am too young to have heart disease.
Modern lifestyle and unhealthy routine all take toll on heart health
Take life easy after a heart attack
Some form of physical activity should be started as permitted by your doctor. Sedentary lifestyle will further aggravate the disease
Blood Pressure and diabetes
Whatever age you develop high blood pressure it hardens the arteries, becomes a precursor for heart disease if not kept in check. Same is the case with diabetes. Medicines need to be taken on time regular visits to the doctor are must.
Other common misconceptions
It's a male disease
No. it affects women equally after menopause. They need to be equally careful
Restricting fat/cholesterol after having been diagnosed with heart disease
Optimal fat intake should be there in the diet. Reduce the consumption of processed food (chips, pakoras, vadsas, burgers, cheese). Toned milk can be had, red meat is best avoided; fish/ chicken can be consumed twice a week
Vitamins and supplements reduce the risk the heart disease
Body absorbs vitamins and minerals more from fresh fruits and vegetables in the normal balanced diet than from the supplements.
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