Srinagar, Oct 23: Heart attacks in Kashmir are linked with cold weather as more people tend to have attacks during winter, while sedentary lifestyle and unchecked health conditions are also contributing factors behind rise in heart attack cases, said the experts.
As the valley has witnessed a dip in temperature people suffering from hypertension, diabetes, chest ailments become vulnerable to all sorts of diseases, especially heart attacks. Doctors say heart attacks double in winter months.
Dr Nasir Shamas, a Consultant Physician at JLNM hospital Srinagar said in winter months especially in Chillai Kalan (40-day extreme cold period in Valley which start from December 20th onwards and ends by end of January), heart attacks increase in Kashmir.
He said that studies have revealed that there is an increase of 20 to 40 percent chances of heart attacks in winters.
Shamas, who is part of “Save Heart Kashmir”, an initiative using WhatsApp to manage cardiac emergencies across hospitals, said heart attacks, chest pain and strokes are common in winter months and people need to take precautions.
“In summer we receive eight heart attacks patients per day, but in winters the figures double and we get 16 cases per day of rare and complicated heart attacks in the “Save Heart” initiative,” he said, adding that people suffering from hypertension, diabetes and chest ailments are more vulnerable to it.
Shamas said generally older people should avoid extremes of cold. He said people should avoid morning walks and trips outside during winters so that it does not affect their heart as has been seen in the past.
On asking how people can prevent heart attacks, he said people should avoid stress.
“Medication will help. Keeping blood pressure, cholesterol and sugars in control is important. People should avoid first and second-hand smoke. People should also avoid high-calorie items. Avoiding extremes of temperature are also important,” he said.
The senior doctor said there are many genetic reasons and seasonal ones too. He said people in Kashmir have more EMI due to their sedentary behaviour.
“Our basic health conditions remain unchecked for a long time like hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol. We take smoking as leisure and don’t make efforts to quit it.”
Reacting over the rise in drug abuse, he said youth in the valley are indulging in drug addiction like cannabis and cocaine and it is a “deadly misadventure for heart.”
“Change of routine during winter months is needed, while early morning and late evening mental stress need to be avoided at all costs,” he said.
Shamas said in winter months snow shoveling is a known trigger for heart attacks saying that many people who shovel snow rarely go for exercise.
“Picking up a shovel and moving hundreds of pounds of snow, particularly after doing no physical work for several months, can put a big strain on the heart,” he said.
“Cold weather is another contributor because it can boost blood pressure, interrupt blood flow to part of the heart, and make blood more likely to form clots in heart vessels.”
Shamas said in case of any sternal pain continuous for more than 10 minutes, sweating, pain going to the arm, jaw, giddiness don’t hesitate to visit the healthcare facility immediately.
Dr Nisar Ahmad Tramboo, former head, Department of Cardiology Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Srinagar said heart attacks and strokes almost double in winter months.
“Avoiding smoking, keeping blood pressure and diabetes under control and taking less salts will help decrease chances of heart attacks,” he said.
Tramboo said if someone suspects a heart attack or faces heart pain, the patient must be immediately taken to the hospital instead of just waiting for it to go away on its own.
Doctors say that older people and those with existing heart conditions are particularly vulnerable and should stay warm when the temperature drops.
Medical experts said the elderly (more than 65 years) and infants are at high risk of contracting ailments due to the dip in temperature.
“People should avoid exertion in cold weather if suffering from heart disease or high blood pressure. Cold weather makes your heart work harder to keep body warm,” said an expert.
They said cold weather leads to the increased formulation of clots leading to heart attacks and stroke suggesting people to take balanced diet and drink frequent warm beverages to avoid risks.
“Stay active indoors. Do not sit for long periods of time. Move around once every hour. If you are working outdoors, work slowly and take frequent breaks. Avoid walking on ice and snow,” the expert said.