Winter is already here. The season is high time for heart attacks. Cold weather triggers many medical problems like influenza, asthma, sore throat, joint pains and heart diseases, in particular heart attacks. The risk is not confined to the elderly alone. The young and healthy individuals also suffer heart attacks and strokes. As per doctors, gone are the days when children brought their parents to a cardiologist. Now, doctors are seeing parents bringing their children.
According to a survey published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, the number of strokes in the general population goes up by 11 percent for every 2.9 degree centigrade decline in temperature.
Freezing temperatures cause the heart arteries to condense thereby restricting the blood and oxygen flow to the heart. This often causes a rise in blood pressure, making a heart attack or stroke more likely.
The temperature drop increases the chances of blood clot formation since blood platelets are more active and stickier.
In winters, there is a reduction in daylight hours which, as per doctors, affects the hormonal balance and causes vitamin D deficiency, a common trigger for heart attacks.
The cold weather also triggers bouts of depression, especially amongst the elderly, causing an increase in stress levels and hypertension, believe psychiatrists.
Also, people indulge in high sugar, trans-fat, and sodium comfort food, which can be extremely dangerous for the diabetic and hypertensive population including as regards the heart.
The doctors advocate habitual changes to reduce the risks of developing serious cardiovascular concerns during the winter months. There is a need for taking a heart-healthy diet. Eating small and frequent meals is recommended as it helps prevent excess pressure on the heart.
The doctors have been advising people to choose food that is rich in fibre and take small portions of each food item.
The researchers have shown that while cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death overall, there have been some transitions, particularly in the high-income countries, which have managed to reduce the number of deaths from cardiovascular disease. In low-income countries, including India, however, cardiovascular disease is still the top killer, with death three times more frequent than that due to cancer.
Among the factors also include low education level. There is a need for out-of-the-box solutions combined with increased awareness. There is a requirement of putting in plans that target the risk factors and prevent the onset of non-communicable diseases.