Cold wave hazards: 5 adverse effects of extreme cold on your health | Health - Hindustan Times
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Cold wave hazards: 5 adverse effects of extreme cold on your health

By, New Delhi
Jan 05, 2024 04:57 PM IST

Extreme cold can have significant impact on cardiovascular and neurological health, raising concerns for conditions ranging from heart attacks to brain strokes.

Low daytime temperatures are making winter unbearable for people in North India. Extremely cold temperatures are not only uncomfortable and saps energy levels but can also lead to health complications from stroke to heart attack. Our body has to work extra hard to cope with freezing temperatures. Our vessels that supply blood to various parts of the body can shrink in response to cold which can read to increased blood pressure. Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can cause hypothermia, which can eventually disrupt brain function and cause neurological issues. Cold wave can also exacerbate respiratory symptoms in people with asthma, COPD and similar lung disorders. (Also read: 11 ways to beat the cold wave and stay safe as mercury drops)

Considering cold wave can be extremely detrimental to almost all aspects of your well-being, it's important to take precautions and avoid exposure as much as possible.(Freepik)
Considering cold wave can be extremely detrimental to almost all aspects of your well-being, it's important to take precautions and avoid exposure as much as possible.(Freepik)

Considering cold wave can be extremely detrimental to almost all aspects of your well-being, it's important to take precautions and avoid exposure as much as possible.

"Extreme cold can have significant impacts on cardiovascular and neurological health, raising concerns for conditions ranging from heart attacks to brain strokes. Cardiologists and neurologists alike emphasize the importance of understanding and mitigating the risks associated with chilly temperatures," says Dr Nishith Chandra, Principal Director, Interventional Cardiology, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute Okhla Road, New Delhi.

Dr Chandra shares 5 ways freezing cold can affect your health:

1. Heart attack

The cold triggers vasoconstriction, leading to increased blood pressure and heart rate. This places additional strain on the cardiovascular system, potentially precipitating heart attacks. Moreover, the cold can thicken the blood, escalating the chances of clot formation, a pivotal factor in both heart attacks and strokes.

2. Strokes, neurological issues

Hypothermia becomes a substantial threat, challenging the body's ability to maintain a stable internal temperature. This can disrupt neurological functions, heightening susceptibility to strokes. Furthermore, prolonged exposure to extreme cold can induce shivering, which, though a natural response to generate heat, can escalate stress on the heart.

3. Asthma, COPD

Respiratory issues can emerge as cold air constricts airways, posing a risk for individuals with pre-existing conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The strain on the respiratory system amplifies the likelihood of cardiovascular events.

4. Frostbite

Frostbite, a consequence of freezing temperatures affecting skin and underlying tissues, may compromise blood flow. This not only heightens the risk of local tissue damage but also contributes to the broader cardiovascular challenges associated with cold exposure.

5. Psychological stress

Psychological stress from extreme cold can stimulate the release of stress hormones, impacting the autonomic nervous system. This dysregulation may trigger cardiac events or exacerbate existing cardiovascular conditions.

In navigating extreme cold, individuals must be vigilant regarding these potential adverse effects. Adequate protection, layering, and maintaining warmth are essential preventive measures.

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