Did you know cold weather and heart problems have a connection?
Winters are associated with quite a few health-related problems, especially for the elderly.
One of the most important and common health issues that can be precipitated due to extreme winters is the Heart Problem. The Elderly are more prone to heart attacks and raised blood pressure during winters. It is known that most heart attacks happen during winters and also, people taking medications for high blood pressure, have to change or increase the dose during winters.
The reason why these happen is very complex
“During winters, our heart makes minor adjustments so that normal physiological body processes may continue without hindrance.”– Dr Arun Kochar, senior consultant of the cardiology department of Fortis Hospital, Mohali
When it’s chilly outside, elderly people with coronary heart disease frequently get angina pectoris (chest pain or discomfort). High winds, snow, and rain, in addition to chilly temperatures, may all rob the body of heat. The wind is particularly hazardous because it eliminates the warm air barrier that surrounds your body.
The body’s oxygen requirements also increase during the winter months. Reduced levels of oxygen enter the heart as a result of vasoconstriction, increasing the risk of a heart attack.
Angina, or chest discomfort caused by coronary heart disease, can intensify in the winter because coronary arteries contract as a result of the cold. The oxygen density in the atmosphere decreases throughout the winter season. As a result, the heart’s oxygen requirement rises. The flow of blood surrounding the heart is restricted due to vasoconstriction (artery narrowing) and decreasing temperature, resulting in a reduced quantity of oxygen reaching the heart. This demand-supply mismatch may trigger a heart attack.
Older adults can lose body heat fast — faster than when they were young. Changes in your body that come with aging can make it harder for you to be aware of getting a cold. A big chill can turn into a dangerous problem before an older person even knows what’s happening. It’s important to know how cold weather can affect your heart, especially if you have cardiovascular disease.
Physical inactivity or mental stress, both of which contribute to an increased risk of a heart attack in the winter, might sometimes affect you. As a result, you should be more vigilant and take extra measures.
Help Yourself to Avoid Heart Problems
If you experience any tightness or pain in your chest and near areas then don’t delay in reaching the hospital for treatment.
Wintertime is dangerous for people with heart problems, however. A drop in body temperature, called hypothermia, can lead to cardiac arrest, heart failure, and more. Winter is peak flu season, too, and catching the illness raises your chances of heart attack and stroke.
So, this winter, what should someone with a heart condition do?
Winter Safety Measure for Heart Patients
- Dress Warmly For Winter
On frigid days, it’s ideal to stay in your warm and comfy house. Because blood vessels constrict in cold conditions, your heart needs to work harder to pump blood. If you must go outside, layer up with a thick coat, scarf, and hat, as your head loses a lot of heat. Underneath, choose layers of clothes. They will keep you warm, but you may remove them if you feel too hot. If you become wet, change into fresh clothes as soon as possible. The loss of body heat is accelerated by damp clothing.
- Avoid excessive Exertion
Excessive exertion or exercise can put a burden on your heart. If you can’t avoid it, take breaks when working outside and quit if you become weary or ill. Shortness of breath and chest discomfort are two of the most common indicators of a heart attack; don’t dismiss them, even if they go away. If you have any unexpected symptoms, see a healthcare practitioner (HCP) right away.
- Defend against the Flu
Wash your hands often, avoid individuals who are sick, and get a yearly flu vaccination to protect your heart’s health. And what if you suspect you’re becoming sick? Consult your healthcare provider about treatment options.
- Stick to your prescriptions
In the frenzy of festivities, we sometimes forget our prescriptions. Other times, icy conditions make it difficult to contact a health care provider or a pharmacy. Don’t allow the cold to prevent you from taking your heart medicine; set reminders and make sure you have plenty on hand in case of a storm. Traveling? Check to see whether your pharmacy provides medicine delivery services. Pack medications in a carry-on bag and bring enough to cover any delays.
- Practice good habits
Winter can make a significant dent in healthy living, what with holiday celebrations and being locked inside for months at a time. While it’s fine to treat yourself now and then, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly will help maintain your heart’s good form throughout the season. Balance party snacks with lighter, plant-based foods, and consider engaging in indoor physical activities such as mall strolling or weight training, which are both beneficial to your heart. Seek advice from a healthcare professional before beginning any new workout regimen.
People with heart failure may notice that their arms, hands, feet, and legs are frequently cold (the extremities). This occurs because the body is diverting the majority of available blood to the brain and other essential organs in order to compensate for the failing heart’s inability to pump enough blood throughout the body.
Last but not least, retain a cheerful attitude and get to the hospital as soon as possible if you have an emergency. Patients must ensure that they adhere to their medicine and exercise regimens. Also, avoid the higher levels of pollution that occur during the winter.