How to take care of your Heart in winter

By Dr. Rajiv Agarwal in Cardiac Sciences

Dec 27 , 2019 | 2 min read


As temperatures start to fall, your risk of a heart attack begins to climb. "Cold weather sometimes creates a perfect storm of risk factors for cardiovascular problems," Let's see the reasons why heart diseases increase in winter and how you can prevent them.


Contraction of blood vessels- Due to cold weather, blood vessels contract, thus increasing the blood pressure that increases the risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart attack.
Extra load on the heart- In winter, your heart has to work harder to keep the body warm, and if the body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, it can damage your heart. 
Exertion- Winter sometimes causes us to overexert. We walk briskly against a strong wind, or push a car. Exertion increases the heart's demand for oxygen.

Pollution- Winter in North India especially Delhi NCR is now associated with very bad atmospheric pollution for weeks on end. The reasons for this include traffic, construction, burning of waste, wood and leaves, farm fires and lack of wind at these times. Delhi can become a gas chamber where both indoor and outdoor pollution leads to build-up of fine particles (called PM 2.5) which can enter the bloodstream via the lungs and aggravate high Blood Pressure and heart disease. Government is trying to address the root causes. At individual levels it is important to avoid over-exertion and exercise in smoggy conditions which may do more harm than good.  Fortunately the Air Quality improves when the sun comes out and wind picks up and we may do outdoor exercise at such times usually mid morning. Also have indoor exercise options during bad weather which may include an exercise cycle, treadmill, or even simply walking or stepping up and down the stairs. For people with heart disease, indoor air purifiers may be considered also in winter months.  
Take care of your heart with these easy tips.
Warm clothing-  If you do head out, cover exposed parts with a cap, muffler and jacket before heading out.
Modify the time slot of exercise- Exercise regularly but modify the time slot to avoid harsh weather conditions. Indoor exercise options may be adopted to avoid missing exercise altogether.
Avoid infections- Respiratory infections can put you at risk of heart disease, so avoid infections. Getting a flu shot at the start of winter is recommended for the elderly, and it is still not too late, so elderly heart patients are advised to contact their doctors for the flu shot.
Healthy winter food- Add seasonal vegetables to your meals and stay healthy. You can opt for hot soup and stews to keep yourself warm.

I wish you all a Happy New Year.