- Elderly persons are the most vulnerable to cardiac conditions during winters. They should keep themselves extra warm to avoid stress on the heart.
- Morning walks should be continued during winters to keep in good shape and provide exercise to the heart. However, avoid exposure to extreme colds. Go for the walk a little late so it is a little warmer and thus avoid extra stress on heart.
- Exercise regularly to keep the cardiovascular system well conditioned so the extra stress on heart during winters can be handled efficiently by the body.
- Avoid foods which provide extra calories beyond what is used up by the body on a daily basis. Example, most of us believe almonds are good during winters as they keep us warm. However the extra calories provided by them are only good to burn and keep the body warm. If they are not used up on a daily basis, they collect in the form of fat and extra weight if taken regularly during winters. So, avoid consuming extra calorie over and above needed by the body.
- Visit your doctor or seek advice early for any symptoms suggestive of cardiac origin eg: chest heaviness, shortness of breath, neck tightness etc. During winters, the heart is under extra stress hence the capacity to tolerate any disturbance of oxygen flow to itself is not tolerated well by the body. Seek help early if symptoms occur.
- If exercising in open air, try to avoid breathing in cold air. This could cause spasm of tubes blood vessels in lung and stress the heart. Wear a warm piece of cloth over nostrils and mouth when breathing heavily during exercise in cold conditions.
- Keep the lung related medications always handy in case of acute deterioration of lung condition due to sudden change in cold weather. Similarly, all cardiac related medications should be taken more regularly during winters so the extra stress on heart is avoided.
Dr Vinay Sanghi, Sr. Consultant, Interventional Cardiology, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute