9 Tips on Preventing Winter Heart Attacks

It is commonly known that winters are not only times of celebration and merry making, but also some general infections such as flu and cold. However, not everyone is aware of the fact that winter also increases one’s risk of a heart attack. This is because, with lower temperatures, the arteries that arise from the aorta become shrunken, and so, the heart has to apply more effort to pump blood. This stresses out the heart, and causes a heart attack.

The risk is higher for those who do not have any idea about their pre-existing heart conditions. So, Dr Vanita Arora, Head and Associate Director of Max Hospital’s Cardiac Electrophysiology Lab and Arrhythmia Services, says it is important to keep a constant check on your heart-related risk factors during this vulnerable season. Here are nine tips from the expert on the prevention of winter heart attacks.

  1. Take a break for your heart: With a change in the season, a significant fluctuation is observed in the cholesterol levels. And during the cold months, your cholesterol levels will probably be higher than normal. You will be at higher risk of cardiovascular diseases during these months if you suffer from borderline high cholesterol. So, you should manage your cholesterol levels during the winter season. You should also avoid stressing out your heart which withstands the impact of high level cholesterol.
  2. Slow down, do not overexert: Often during the winter, circumstances force you to overexert. For instances, you have to shovel your drive way, you have to walk briskly against a strong wind, etc. This kind of exertion increases your heart’s oxygen demand. And, blockages in the arteries, if any, reduces blood flow to the heart muscle, resulting in an imbalance in the demand and supply. So, avoid exhausting yourself by overdoing things. Take frequent breaks and give yourself some rest.
  3. Walk in the sun: If you have the habit of going for a daily walk, avoid it in the mornings of chilly days. Rather do it in the evening while the sun is still up.
  4. Take frequent small meals: There is a tendency for us to overeat during the winters. When you eat a large single meal, it can put an additional burden on your heart. So, go for smaller meals at regular intervals.
  5. Avoid alcohol: Often people think that drinking alcohol in the cold months will help them keep warm. However, too much alcohol can lead to irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia) and atrial fibrillation. So, it is better to avoid alcohol. If you can’t do that, drink in moderation.
  6. Be prepared: Having emergency pills handy will aid in resolving any complaints of chest pain or breathlessness. So, consult a doctor in this regard. He may prescribe pills such as sorbitrate to act as an emergency pill if there is a heart attack.
  7. Stay warm: One of the major causes of fatality during the cold months is hypothermia – an emergency condition when your body loses heat faster than it can generate heat. Often times, an individual suffering from the condition dies due to heart failure. This is because of the clamping down of blood vessels upon exposure to icy temperatures. Staying warm helps prevent hypothermia. Therefore, to keep warm, dress yourself in layers, stay indoors as often as possible, and take bath in hot water alone.
  8. Pay heed to warning signals: Pay immediate attention to signs such as shortness of breath; severe sweating; discomfort in the chest; and pain in the shoulders, neck, jaws and arms. These can be indicators of a heart attack. Therefore, you must immediately visit your physician.
  9. Go for regular checkups: If you suffer from any chronic health condition, particularly heart problem, it is recommended that you go for regular health check-ups. It can help treat any health issue before it gets serious.
    It is better to be safe than to be sorry. So, apply these winter heart attack prevention tips to your life, and also suggest these to your loved ones, to get through this winter safely and healthily!

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