Heart attacks in winter multiple and more likely to be fatal: expert
There is also an increased stress hormones when there is a change in the ratio of daylight hours to dark hours
Mohali: “Risk of heart attacks in winter is twice than summer and they are more likely to be fatal. Researchers have found in a study that the rate of heart disease-related deaths rose sharply between Dec 25-Jan 7.”
Dr Harinder Singh Bedi, director of cardio-vascular endovascular & thoracic sciences at Ivy Hospital ,Mohali said on Friday that when a person gets exposed to cold weather, the body’s automatic response is to narrow the blood vessels to the skin so that the heat is retained . But people having their arteries already filled with plaque, the narrowing of the blood vessels raises risk of triggering heart attack. The problem is higher in India as we do not live in artificially regulated temperatures as in the west, he remarked.
Dr Bedi informed further that narrowing leads to strain on heart causing increased blood pressure. This works as double whammy. The thicker blood in cold weather is another reason where blood platelets appear to be more active and stickier and therefore more likely to clot. In fact even the levels of cholesterol rise during the winter, he pointed out.
Holiday feasting is another culprit when people tend to eat and drink more, and gain more weight during winter, he pointed out.
There is also an increased stress hormones when there is a change in the ratio of daylight hours to dark hours, which causes an increase of stress hormones besides depression among people. Covid pandemic has further added to the problem, he maintained.
Winter also raises chances of flu infection which can increase bp, stir up white blood cell activity, and change C - reactive protein and fibrinogen levels in the blood.
That doesn’t mean that one needs to be afraid of winter. To minimize the risk one need to keep heart healthy by following tips including staying active, managing bp, avoiding early morning walks, putting up adequate layers, eating a diet low in saturated fats and calories, taking stairs and doing active housework etc. If you feel chest pain call for emergency help and do not postpone the treatment, Dr Bedi advised.