SRINAGAR: Doctors have pressed a panic button over the rampant use of cold medicines and cough syrups following the alarming increase in heart attacks in Kashmir.
More than 18 cases of heart attacks are reported to SMHS and SKIMS every day this winter. Private and other hospitals in different districts too are witnessing a surge in heart failure cases.
“Heart attacks have increased by two-and-half times in winter. We are witnessing 17 to 18 cases every day in both SMHS and SKIMS per day. Earlier, heart attack was a disease of old age. People above 65 years were prone to attacks. Now people below 40 are getting heart attacks. People as young as 28 are getting heart attacks,” Dr. Irfan Ahmad Bhat, senior cardiologist at SMHS hospital told The Kashmir Monitor.
What is acting as a new trigger is the rampant use of anti-cold medicines and over-the-counter cough syrups. “Suppose someone has a common cold, he buys over-the-counter drugs. Anti-cold drugs have a problem. They contain salt which shoots up blood pressure. Likewise, people take cough syrups without realizing their harmful effects. It increases rhythmic disorder in the heart. These are additional factors that trigger heart attacks in winter,” he said
Cold weather narrows the blood vessels and arteries. Due to this, more force is needed to supply blood to different parts of the body. As a result, the blood pressure increases. Blood pressure may also be affected due to abrupt changes in the weather like humidity, atmospheric pressure, cloud cover, or wind. Besides, winter weight gain and lack of physical activity may also contribute to a spike in blood pressure levels.
“During winter, stable diseases become unstable. Pressure on the heart is more. It has to pump more blood. The workload on the heart increases in winter. Coronary blood vessel becomes thin. Blood supply to the heart is less,” he said.
Dr. Muhammad Salim Khan, head, department of community medicine, said people need to take a lot of fluids during winter to remain hydrated. “It is a myth that people do not sweat during winter. In fact, we wear so many clothes that we get sweat. We lose our water content from the body. Therefore we need to drink more fluids in winter. When we do not drink water, our blood thickens. Our blood pressure also shoots up. It puts more pressure on the heart, “ he said.
(Inputs From Kashmir Monitor)