How to Keep Heart Healthy During Winter
Stay heart healthy this winter
Cardiologist Upendra Kaul tells you why you are more prone to a heart attack during winters and what you can do to prevent it
Posted On Friday, December 30, 2011
Winter doubles your chances of getting a heart attack. This is especially true for people who have one or more risk factors — high BP, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, obesity and a family history of heart disease.
Winter predisposes you to heart ailments:
- The cold leads to constriction of blood vessels. This reduces blood supply to the heart and can precipitate angina or blockage in the arteries leading to an attack.
- The oxygen demand of the heart increases because the heart has to work harder to keep the body warm.
- Early morning surge in BP is an important reason for heart attacks being more common at this time of the day.
- Because of fewer daylight hours in winter, people try and finish all outdoor work in the day. The shift of activities to morning hours also leads to a change in the circadian rhythm or body clock, leading to an increase in heart rate, BP, and cortisol levels. The combination puts pressure on your heart and increases risk of a heart attack.
It is, therefore, important to be careful and use preventive strategies during this period. If you are at risk and want to get on to a healthy heart exercise regimen, start slow.
The cardiovascular system can adapt to slow, progressive changes, but has a difficult time adapting to sudden changes. When you exercise, do it for just 15 minutes at a stretch and let the body recover. But don't go inside and have a cup of coffee or smoke a cigarette because caffeine and nicotine just put that much more burden on the heart. Restart after 15 minutes.
Don't overdo especially if you are not used to exercising. Get an evaluation done by a doctor before embarking on an exercise regimen, especially if you have been sedentary.
The golden rule to avoid heart attacks:
- Keep your BP less than 140/90 mms Hg
- Your fasting sugar should be less than 100 mgs/dl
- Keep your blood cholesterol less than 150 mgs/dl
- Avoid tobacco in any form
- Keep your weight under control
- As far as possible, avoid getting agitated and stressed out.