Cardiac ailments are one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity with numbers increasing with each passing moment. During every winter season we have seen that cardiovascular problems are on rise and this time we have been scourged with COVID which has only added to our sufferings. During these times of crisis Department of Cardiology Super Specialty Hospital (SSH) Jammu has been involved wholeheartedly in providing all types of best cardiac care to the patients and performing various complex procedures under the visionary and able guidance of Dr Sushil Sharma, Prof and Head Department of Cardiology SSH Jammu. Keeping in view the curiosities of common man and particularly those suffering with cardiac problems we have an exclusive chat with the man himself–Dr Sushil Sharma, with a goal to enlighten the masses with reference to cardiac ailments in winter particularly during COVID times.
Question: Tell us in brief about the correlation between winter season and increase in the incidence of cardiovascular problems.Answer: Every season be it winter or summer brings with it certain diseases which are more prevalent during that time as compared to rest of year. Cardiovascular related ailments are in particular on rise during winter season mainly because of the fact that cold weather makes heart to work harder to maintain the body temperature resulting in constriction of the blood vessels so that heart can concentrate on pumping blood to brain and other major organs. Besides cold temperature also increases the risk of developing blood clots leading to heart attack and stroke.
Question: What precautions need to be taken during winters so as to decrease morbidity and mortality rates associated with cardiovascular ailments?Answer: People with coronary heart disease often suffer from angina (chest pain or discomfort) during cold weather.To keep warm, wear layers of clothing as air gets trapped between layers which acts as insulating medium, besides hands and feet should also be kept warm as they tend to loose heat very rapidly.Breaks should be taken to warm up if one is spending too much time in cold and should avoid extreme temperature both in early morning and late night.
Question: Is there any connection between taking alcohol and increased risk of cardiovascular ailments in winter?Answer: One should avoid taking excess of alcohol as it itself has multifactorial adverse effects especially related to cardiovascular problems. Especially during winters one should not drink alcohol as alcohol may increase a person’s sensation of warmth and may cause them to underestimate the extra strain their body is under in the cold and can cause extreme degree of vasodilation.
Question: What influence you think COVID will have in increasing the cardiovascular mortality especially with reference to chilling season outside?Answer: COVID already has taken a huge toll whether socioeconomic or morbidity or mortality, all three spheres have been affected irrespective of the season , but during this winter we have to be very much vigilant as both COVID cases are on rise and H1N1 influenza cases will also be there which will only further exacerbate the problem, and both these viruses have shown very high mortality rates in persons with coronary artery diseases.
Question: Does there needs to be any dose adjustment of drugs during winters in persons with coronary artery diseases?Answer: Most commonly encountered problem is increase in the blood pressure levels because of non compliance and lost follow up.This needs to be taken seriously and persons having such history should get themselves checked by primary care physicians at earliest to titrate the dose of antihypertensive and avoid any serious cardiac or neurological problems. Besides angina is a very common complaint during this season especially when doing morning walks during early hours when weather is too cold, so anyone experiencing the symptoms of chest discomfort or pain should consult doctor as early as possible and avoid any delay, as angina is harbinger of heart attack.
Question: What is your take away message to the masses especially to persons with cardiac ailments with particular reference to COVID?Answer: I once again stress on the fact that even slight symptoms like headache, chest heaviness , feeling uneasiness while on exertion, should not be taken lightly especially in those strata of populations who have some associated comorbidity like diabetes, hypertension, COPD.Regular follow ups and checkups by the doctor are the key to whole exercise of preventing cardiovascular diseases, be it winter or summer. Besides gatherings should be avoided to as much extent as possible especially by high risk patients with coronary artery disease to limit the spread of COVID. Washing hands, usage of face masks and respiratory hygiene has to be followed in spirit as this is the only proven effective vaccine against COVID till date.
(The writer is student of BA.LLB at Bennett University, Greater Noida)
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