Winter chill increases risk of having a heart attack or stroke: DAK

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Srinagar : Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Tuesday said the number of heart attack and stroke patients at Kashmir hospitals doubles in winter.

“There is increase in number of deaths from heart attacks and strokes during winter months,” said DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan.

“Not only elderly people, but young and healthy individuals come to hospitals with massive heart attacks and strokes and some of them are brought dead,” he said.

DAK President said chill of winter increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

“Research shows that there are up to 53 percent more heart attacks in winter than in summer,” he said.

Quoting a study published in European Journal of Epidemiology, Dr Nisar said for every 2.9 degree centigrade decline in temperature, the number of strokes in general population goes up by 11 percent. But among those already at high risk due to raised blood pressure, smoking or being overweight the increase is 30 percent.

“Frigid temperatures constrict blood vessels that increase blood pressure which makes heart attack or stroke more likely,” he said adding “the blood tends to be thicker and stickier during extreme cold which makes it easier to clot.”

Dr Nisar said this winter Covid-19 is a big factor. If you catch the virus, you are at an increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Covid-19 causes acute and severe inflammation that builds up fat deposits in the inner walls of the blood vessels. These fat deposits dislodge and get stuck in heart or brain where they block the blood flow.

“Flu of winter also heightens the risk of these cases,” he said adding “lack of sunlight during winter leaves people vitamin D deficient which is associated with increased risk of dying from heart attack or stroke.”

“While we can’t change the weather, we can take precautions to protect ourselves from heath risks of cold weather. Keep yourself warm to prevent from cold temperature. If you move out, dress in layers, wear a hat, gloves and scarf. Avoid going out in chill for walk and move your workout inside. Get your annual flu shot, follow Covid-19 guidelines and don’t forget to take your vitamin D,” suggested Dr Nisar.

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