For the most part, we’ll be doing one of two things this season: partying or curling up with comfort food. Neither is the ideal way to keep you heart healthy – and winter is surprisingly the season for heart attacks too, particularly for those with a history of heart disease. Fend off the worst of the worry with these simple tips.
• Stay warm. The low temperature constricts blood vessels, which further lowers oxygenated blood supply to the body parts. Apart from this, the heart is also under immense pressure maintain blood flow and body temperature, and ends up working harder.
• Keep moving. Regular exercise keeps the body warm. Instead of sudden unaccustomed exertion opt for light activity that will keep blood flow normal.
• Watch for hypothermia. When your body temperature falls below 35 degrees Celsius it can’t even produce enough energy to get you back to feeling warm. Symptoms include lack of coordination, mental confusion, slowed reactions, shivering and sleepiness. Layer your woolies for added insulation. Cover your head and ears with a cap or scarf to retain body heat.
• Listen to your body. Several signs occur before a full blown heart attack: heart burn, stomach-ache, nausea, pain in the legs, breathlessness. Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart problems, have it checked. It might save your life.
• Watch your drink. Avoid alcohol before or immediately after exercise. A drink may increase that inner-warmth, but it strains the heart and may hurt you instead.
Dr Niraj Kumar is associate director of cardiology at Max Hospital, Gurugram.