Heart needs care every day and in every season. However, winter comes with additional challenges for people with coronary diseases, especially, for the elderly with decreased immunity and stamina. Research shows that winter comes as a season for more heart attacks and reportedly it witnesses 53% more attacks than the summer season.
Why More Heart Attacks in Winter?
There are some cumulative factors that work together to make winter tougher for your heart.
Increased blood clots: Due to low temperature, the arteries tend to tighten making the passage narrow which contributes to more clotting of blood. According to cardiologists, this not only increases the risk for attack, but also for stroke.
Less oxygen supply to heart: In winter, the heart works harder to maintain the body temperature. But due to hardening of the arteries causes by low body temperature, the heart does not get adequate oxygen supply leading to a heart attack.
Hypothermia: Due to cold weather, the body temperature falls below the normal temperature and the body fails to produce enough energy to keep the internal organs warm. To keep the organs running, heart needs to supply more blood and more oxygen. This puts heart in pressure leading to heart failure.
Outdoor activities and physical stress: Everyone is not conditioned for physical stress. Increased physical activities with outdoor sports for people with heart diseases can induce accidental hypothermia and hence heart failure. Not only this, more of physical activity require more oxygen supply and blood which makes heart pump faster. This condition may damage the heart.
How the dark winter affects your heart?
Dark winter means less sunlight and hence less vitamin D. In winter, the exposure to sunlight is less and body goes into a vitamin D deficient state. People don’t come out due to cold winds and even if they go outdoor, there is no sufficient sunlight to maintain high enough vitamin D level. Middle-aged and elderly people come at a risk of heart disease as vitamin D is very important for its unique mechanism that helps fight heart disease.
Vitamin D works,
- To increase the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines naturally by body mechanism in the presence of sunlight.
- To suppress the calcification of vascular system. It means a healthy heart muscle is possible with the help of vitamin D.
- To inhibit the growth of vascular smooth muscle growth and hence adds flexibility and elasticity to the cardiac muscles.
A person with less vitamin D is at a higher risk of dying from heart disease due to arterial stiffness. So, especially during the winter seasons, apart from all the precautions, one should get a blood test done to find out the vitamin D level and take supplements to pass the winter healthy way.
Tips to Reduce the Risk of Heart Attack in Winter
Regular exercise: Exercising regularly keeps your heart in top form throughout the year. It keeps you safe from sudden heart problems arising out of jerks and exertions of winter workouts.
Eat the right food: High triglycerides and low HDL is a deadly combination for your heart. Take high quality animal based omega-3 supplement to increase the good cholesterol.
Optimum vitamin D level: Get your blood checked and maintain the right level of vitamin D. The best way is to get regular sunlight exposure.
Dress well; keep warm: Drape yourself in woolens and keep warm to avoid the risk of lowering body temperature.
Keep informed: Learn about the warning signs of heart attack and stroke. Timely identification of symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment can save lives.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation increases the chances of survival by two or three times. Meet a Doctor and learn what to do in case of a heart attack if someone in your family is suffering from Heart disease.
Having the right information handy always help in handling emergencies. However, looking at the chaos with heart problems in winter, it is always wise to reach to the medical services immediately.
Keep the emergency numbers handy and go for scheduled check-ups with your cardiologist on time.