Categories: Cardiology

Easy ways to keep our Heart Healthy during Winters

All of us adore the winter season. We enjoy hot snacks and sweets in the winter season. We also associate the winter season with festivals and a lot of fun and celebration with friends and families.

But the vulnerability of our heart also increases during the winter season.

Incidence of human casualties due to heart disease and stroke increase during the winter season. Luckily, these conditions are also avoidable with a healthy lifestyle.

Studies have shown that heart attacks are fatal in winters compared to summer. Angina, heart attack, and other heart-related conditions are more common on winter mornings.

How does winter affect heart health?

In cold weather, the probability of people getting sick with the common cold, fever, and flu increases. Winter can be more severe for heart patients. A decrease in temperature may result in many changes in our body, such as:

  • The heart has to work twice to maintain blood supply and keep our body warm.
  • The reduced temperature may cause constriction of blood vessels. It may lead to a decreased oxygen and nutrient supply to heart muscles, thus compromising overall heart health.
  • Chances of developing blood clots also increase in winter.
  • Blood pressure and blood cholesterol level may also increase in winter. Shooting levels of cholesterol and B.P. may increase the risk of a heart attack.

How does the winter affect heart patients?

The body responds physiologically to the changes in outside temperature.

Decreased temperature causes an increase in the body’s sympathetic nervous system activation resulting in constriction of blood vessels (vasoconstriction). This vasoconstriction may increase blood pressure, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood to body parts. This increased pressure may cause an increased risk of angina, heart attack, arrhythmia, and other cardiovascular diseases in people with ongoing heart conditions.

What are common health conditions that may increase the risk for heart patients in winter?

During winters, we are more prone to the following conditions:

  1. Hypothermia

In hypothermia, the body loses more heat than it generates. In hypothermia, body temperature is lower than normal body temperature 98.6F. Sometimes the temperature may fall below 95F. A person suffering from hypothermia may experience the following symptoms:

  • Shivering
  • Tiredness
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  1. Angina

Angina is a coronary artery disease. Angina occurs when the heart does not get the optimal blood supply due to partial obstruction of blood vessels. The decreased temperature during winter may cause constriction of blood vessels, and the patient may experience angina. The most common symptoms in a patient suffering from angina are:

  • Pressure, heaviness, tightness, or pain in the chest lasting for a few minutes
  • Sometimes the pain radiates to the arm, jaw, neck, shoulder, and back
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Pain disappears shortly after rest or medication

Preventive measures in winter

During the winter season, low temperature, pollution, and other factors may increase the risk of heart diseases. Following are some preventive measures to keep in mind to keep your heart healthy:

  • Keeping yourself warm is of utmost importance. If you are prone to cold weather, try to cover yourself with a sufficient layer of clothes to keep your body warm.
  • Stay active physically. It is not necessary to exercise outdoor. You can do indoor activities like light aerobics, yoga, home workouts, dancing, or meditation. Regular exercise keeps your body warm and helps in staying fit.
  • Eat a healthy diet in winter. Avoid fried, fatty, sweet food, and high cholesterol food that can increase the risk of heart diseases.
  • Keep a close watch on medical conditions like diabetes, blood pressure, kidney, and vascular problems. These conditions, if left unchecked, make you more prone to heart conditions.
  • Don’t overexert yourself. Try to avoid heavy and strenuous work if you are a heart patient and take small intervals between work to rest.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Quit smoking as it increases the risk of heart conditions.
  • Consume warm food during winter to maintain your body warm.
  • If you are a heart patient, you should stay indoors on chilly days to prevent sudden cold strokes.

How to detect if you are having a heart problem?

Not all heart condition comes with warning signs. Always remain vigilant about any signs and immediately seek medical attention. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, get an immediate check-up:

  • Pain or any discomfort in the chest
  • Some people may experience heartburn, indigestion, and stomach pain in a heart attack
  • Sometimes chest pain is not evident, but the pain in the shoulder and arm is present.
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath and wheezing
  • Long-lasting cough in a heart patient
  • Easily get tired
  • Sweating without physical activity

The cold weather can be difficult for your heart. But with a proper lifestyle, you can make your heart enjoy this beautiful season. Also, do not ignore any symptoms and immediately consult your doctor. Any further delay in diagnosis and treatment of heart symptoms can be fatal and increase the risk of complications.

Dr. Mahesh Honnalli | Senior Consultant – Cardiologist | SDM Narayana Heart Centre, Dharwad

Narayana Health

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