Srinagar, Oct 19: Health experts have urged people to reduce salt and sugar intake as a preventive measure against heart attacks, especially during the cold winter months. They said low temperatures lead to the constriction of arteries, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Renowned health expert and Medical Superintendent of Khyber Hospital, Dr Showkat Shah, said that narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the heart, raising the risk of heart attacks, especially for those with a history of heart-related issues.
He highlighted the prevalence of high sodium content in Kashmiri traditional ‘Nun Chai’ (salt tea) and bread, which elevates blood pressure and can lead to heart attacks, strokes, brain haemorrhage, and other health problems.
“Sedentary lifestyles, combined with unhealthy dietary choices like junk and fried foods, contribute to obesity, a significant factor in heart disease due to increased blood pressure and blood sugar levels,” he said, adding, “Salt intake must be just 1/4th and sugar must be avoided. The patients having underlying heart issues must visit doctors on time and follow all guidelines.”
To minimise the risk of heart attacks or strokes, Dr Shah advised people to stay warm, limit exposure to chilly weather, control diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol, and refrain from smoking. He recommended wearing layered clothing, particularly covering the head and neck, and consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
Exercise indoors during cold weather, avoid fatty foods, and quit smoking to reduce the risk of heart-related issues, he advised.
Prominent cardiologist Dr A G Ahanger proposed the 5S policy: reducing salt and sugar intake, avoiding sedentary lifestyles, managing STRESS, and quitting smoking. These guidelines, he stressed, are crucial for heart health.
Another cardiologist from GMC Srinagar said there is an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes during winter due to factors like decreased body temperature, higher blood pressure, less physical activity, and poor diet.
Common heart attack symptoms, he said, include chest pain, discomfort spreading to the shoulder, arm, back, neck, jaw, or upper belly, cold sweats, fatigue, heartburn, light headedness, nausea, and shortness of breath.
The doctor advised people to exercise in suitable temperatures, dress warmly with layers, gloves, and socks when going outside, maintain a healthy lifestyle, manage stress, and adhere to prescribed medications for blood pressure and diabetes control.
He also recommended proper hydration, good hygiene, and getting flu shots, if possible, for overall health and well-being.