21January2017

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Winter increases heart attack risk by 25%: Dr Parneesh Arora

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Navdeep Nandre

 “The arrival of winters with a sudden drop in temperature is known to contribute to a significant increase in the number of heart attack patients and also in the risk of heart attacks by as much as 25% as compared to summers,” states Dr. Parneesh Arora, HOD, Cardiology at Fortis Hospital, Noida.

Dr. Arora explains, "A heart attack is usually marked by a severe squeezing pain in the chest that may radiate down the left arm., But, sometimes it may feel more like a muscle pull. In reality, however, the heart could be reacting in pain due to a clogged artery in the heart but the pain can radiate, making it appear to be a pulled muscle in the back or neck. It may be also associated with sweating or restlessness. At times, one might even attribute it to gaseous pain."

“Our team has seen more cases of cardiovascular diseases in winters as compared to summers this year too”, says Dr. Arora. He adds: “Certain activities more commonly performed during cold weather might also contribute to the risk. This is not only attributed to physical exertion but also due to dropping temperatures. We suggest to our patients, especially those who are older, to protect themselves against the changing temperature.”  They should also not go for walks during early morning in cold conditions, but should delay their walks when warm sunshine is there, the doctor told DTMT.

As per Dr. Arora, winters force ones heart to work almost twice as hard, as compared to other seasons, to maintain its body heat. This results in tightening of arteries, causing a restriction to the normal blood flow and also reducing the oxygen supply to the heart. When all these factors work together, they could trigger a heart attack. Hypothermia (condition when your body temperature falls below normal) can lead to heart failure. Lack of sunlight can cause a rise in blood pressure, along with increasing levels of proteins that raise the risk of blood clots.

Dr Arora says, “The good news is that it is possible to prevent and avoid heart disease. To do this, one must be proactive in taking steps towards healthy living, especially if one has a genetic disposition to heart disease.”

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