As the mercury continues to fall in bone-chilling winter, a contrasting scenario is being reported in hospitals of Delhi-NCR. The fast-dipping temperature and post-COVID trauma have led to a rise in cases of heart-related issues. Hospitals are witnessing at least a 50 percent rise in such cases in comparison to last winter. The cases, including heart attacks and strokes, have significantly increased, doctors told IANS.
Medanta Hospital in Gurugram said that it has seen a 50 percent rise in patients coming with heart issues since the start of December. Aakash Healthcare in Delhi said that since the last two months, the average patient count coming with cardiac issues has increased in the hospital. It is now receiving an average of 500 patients since November which was around 300 patients in previous years during winters.
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Indraprastha Apollo Hospital is also witnessing a spike in cases of heart attacks and angina in the past 3 weeks. Doctors said that extremely low temperature and post-COVID complications are the key contributors behind the reported rise in cardiac issues among the public.
“Frigid temperatures constrict blood vessels that increase blood pressure which makes it suffer a heart attack or stroke. Besides, Covid-19 is also playing a major factor since it affects the circulatory system of the body. If you catch the virus, you are at an increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke. COVID makes the blood thicker and hence blocks arteries,” Dr. Praveen Chandra, Chairman, Interventional Cardiology, at Medanta explained.
Dr. Anil Saxena, Director, Cardiology, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, Delhi, said that the risk of rising in heart-related cases is a common phenomenon during winters. However, Covid-19 is aggravating the issue further this year. “Many patients with COVID infection are getting complications due to inflammation in the arteries and heart muscle itself. This may complicate matters for heart patients,” he added.
Dr. Ashish Agarwal, Head, Department of Cardiology at Aakash said that the COVID-19 has substantially affected the hearts of its patients, especially those with pre-existing heart problems or other comorbidities.
“Having an incurable viral infection like COVID-19 during winters can increase the risk of heart failure or heart attack. This is because blood vessels in the body become more constricted due to exposure to extremely cold temperatures in winters that can restrict blood flow to the body and to the heart,” he informed.
A study published in JAMA Cardiology medical journal claimed that 78 percent of Covid recovered patients have abnormalities in the heart while 60 percent have an ‘ongoing myocardial inflammation’. It also found higher levels of Troponins, the blood enzyme which indicates heart damage, among the study subjects.
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Meanwhile, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital said that the numbers are also increasing since the patients, with existing heart ailments, who have been delaying regular check-ups amid the pandemic, are now coming with the aggrieved condition.
“While the dip in temperature is the major cause here, the pandemic has made this situation even grimmer. The patients with existing heart ailments who have been delaying regular check-ups are the worst-hit. They are turning in with aggravated condition of their disease,” said Dr. Mukesh Goel, senior consultant, Cardio-Thoracic Surgery at the hospital, told IANS.
Doctors advised that people with heart conditions and those who have recovered from COVID-19 in the past few months need to remain watchful and take extra care to prevent any fatal heart condition during winters.
“It is important to note that many patients with COVID infection have minimal symptoms but can still have sudden and severe complications. Therefore, one has to be especially watchful for any symptoms of heart disease. Any chest discomfort or sudden difficulty in breathing should not be neglected. One should seek medical care whenever such symptoms occur. Prompt treatment of heart disease can minimize damage to the heart and save lives,” Dr. Saxena cautioned.
“Patients should undergo regular screening tests to check their heart health. Besides, the standard of care practices should be applied, such as avoiding fried food and alcohol, layering of warm clothes, and regular exercise,” Dr. Agarwal advised. (IANS)