Why risk of heart attack rises in winter?

Heart attacks are one of the most common causes of mortality these days, with multiple cases being heard amongst those in their 20s, 30s and 40s. While there are many pressing risk factors that increase one's risk of getting a heart attack, as well as delayed attention to symptoms, seasonal changes, too, can play havoc with your heart. Yes, you read that right!

While winter is often considered a preferred season by many, it is also often the weather when most heart attacks strike. Yes, not just respiratory illnesses and iflux of viruses, heart diseases too, can be a cause of worry during the winters and the sudden drop in temperatures. Thus, while sudden heart attacks and ailments require imperative care, winters are also the time to be more cautioned than ever.

During the winters, the winter chills can be pretty hard to deal with. When the temperature drops, the body ends up working doubly hard to regulate heat, and this ends up taking a toll on the heart's functioning. The risk can be pretty high for someone who's already a heart patient, or has a history of heart attacks. During the winter season, the body's oxygen requirements also shoot up. With vasoconstriction already happening, reduced amounts of oxygen reach the heart, which pose imminent risks for a heart attack.

Increased calorie intake and decreased physical activity can induce myriad physical changes in the body including weight gain and vascular changes which can provide a medium for clot formation and heart attack. Adding that elderly, alcoholics, smokers, people with sedentary lifestyles are more at risk.

How can you reduce your risk and stay safe?

Stay on the right track of health and keep heart diseases at bay. Here are a few expert-approved ways to keep your heart functioning fine:

- Make sure you are dressed appropriately: A change in weather could increase your chances of falling sick quickly. If you are at risk, make sure you dress well and cover yourself in layers suited for the weather. It's also a good way to tackle the seasonal woes which come up with the pollution levels.

- Stay physically active: If the chilly temperatures are making you afraid to step out, find alternate ways to exercise. Regular physical activity and exercise boost your immunity, help regulate body heat and stay fit. Home workouts, heart-friendly aerobic moves, yoga and meditation also work wonders.

-External comorbidities and other risk factors are kept under check, including diabetes, blood pressure levels and other vascular issues. If left unchecked, it can complicate one's case or make you more susceptible to dangers.

-Keep a check on your eating habits: The winters can increase one's appetite, and there can also be a tendency to have more fried, sweet foods, some of which can be high on cholesterol, sugars and fats. Track your eating habits, stay within limits and look for healthier alternatives whenever possible. Also limit the consumption of alcohol and tobacco.

Ref:1. 2013 Apr; 5(4): 266–279.2.Heart.org/cold-heart-facts-why-you-need-to-watch-out-in-winter.3.Health.harvard.edu/heart-health/avoiding-winter-heart-attacks