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Warning signs and symptoms of heart attack during winter

(By Dr Praveen P Sadarmin, Consultant Cardiology-Adult at Narayana Health City Bangalore)

As the icy grip of winter is becoming stronger, the trend of heart attacks in cardiology is increasing. In such cases, it is important to highlight the complexities of these cardiovascular events and guide on alert symptom recognition during the cold months. During this period, a small number of patients may also suffer from silent heart attack.

Understanding (silent) heart attacks:

Heart attacks, including silent heart attacks, are more common in the winter months than in the summer months. Silent heart attacks or myocardial infarctions (SMIs) occur insidiously, devoid of the dramatic chest pain associated with traditional heart attacks. This subtle nature often results in delayed diagnosis and increased risk of complications.

Winter’s cold catch: a catalyst for cardiovascular complications

Cold weather presents unique challenges for heart health. Vasoconstriction in response to low temperatures, along with increased blood viscosity, increases the risk of clot formation. This synergistic effect may trigger heart attacks, including silent heart attacks, especially in individuals with underlying cardiovascular conditions. Most silent heart attacks occur in patients with diabetes and especially those with poorly controlled blood sugar.

Subtle symptoms:

Unlike their more obvious counterparts, silent heart attacks occur without any symptoms and may present with complications late in life. Therefore, it is important to remain alert to subtle symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath and mild discomfort in the chest or upper body. There is a need to increase awareness of these warning signs, especially in winter when the cardiovascular system faces additional stress.

Pay close attention to warning signs:

  • Unexplained Fatigue: Persistent fatigue, disproportionate to exertion, may indicate poor cardiovascular function. Monitor energy levels and seek medical attention if fatigue persists.
  • Mild chest discomfort: Mild chest discomfort, which is often dismissed, requires attention if it persists.
  • Difficulty in breathing: Difficulty breathing compared to the level of exertion or the level of rest requires prompt assessment, as it may be an indicator of a disturbance in heart function.

Winter-ready cardiovascular alert:

  • Regular checkup: Schedule regular cardiovascular checkups, especially during the winter, to assess and address potential risk factors.
  • Temperature Adaptation: Staying warm and avoiding prolonged exposure to extreme cold can reduce cardiovascular burden.
  • Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Maintain a heart-healthy diet, get regular exercise even indoors, and manage stress to strengthen cardiovascular resilience during the winter season.

As winter uncovers its icy layers, it becomes paramount to understand the intricacies of a (silent) heart attack. By creating awareness of subtle symptoms and advocating for proactive heart health, we empower individuals to face the winter months with heart-conscious vigilance.

(Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs and views expressed by various authors and forum participants on this website are personal and do not reflect the opinions, beliefs and views of ABP News Network Pvt. Ltd.)

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