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Extreme cold weather may up brain stroke risk in BP patients: Doctors

IANS Dec 23, 2023

Even as the winter season has set in, doctors on 22 Dec warned that dipping temperatures can heighten the risk of brain stroke and haemorrhage among people with hypertension.

According to the India Meteorological Department, with light rainfall on 22 Dec, Delhi will see a further dip in the minimum temperature to 5 degrees Celsius.

On 21 Dec, the city recorded a minimum temperature of 6.4 degrees Celsius, two notches below the season's average.

Among the various health impacts associated with colder temperatures, studies have shed light on a concerning correlation between cold weather and an elevated risk of brain haemorrhage, presenting a critical nexus between temperature and health outcomes.

"A series of pivotal studies published in esteemed medical journals, including ScienceDirect, American Heart Association Journals, and PubMed, have unearthed an alarming connection: cold weather significantly amplifies the vulnerability to brain haemorrhage, impacting individuals with hypertension and normotensive (normal BP) individuals alike," Dr Manish Vaish, Senior Director, Neurosurgery, at Max Super Speciality Hospital, Delhi, told IANS.

In a compelling case-crossover analysis featured in ScienceDirect, researchers have revealed that cold temperatures pose a heightened risk for haemorrhagic stroke compared to snowfall.

This study emphasises the potent role of cold weather as a risk factor for brain haemorrhage, suggesting a potential trigger in the occurrence of this critical health event.

"Cold weather appears to act as a catalyst, particularly in individuals with hypertension, elevating the risk of brain haemorrhage. The correlation between cold weather and heightened risk demands proactive preventive measures, especially for those with existing health conditions,” Dr Vaish said.

"Even normotensive individuals face an increased risk of high blood pressure in colder temperatures, significantly heightening the risk of a cerebral haemorrhage. This underscores the need for timely interventions to mitigate potential health hazards during cold weather," Dr. Yashpal Singh Bundela, Senior Consultant, Sushrut Brain and Spine, New Delhi.

The implications of these findings are clear and pressing.

Timely intervention, including managing blood pressure levels and adopting protective measures against extreme cold, is crucial to minimise the potential risks associated with brain haemorrhage during colder seasons.

"The call for public awareness and proactive health measures is underscored by these groundbreaking studies. As winter settles in, individuals, especially those with hypertension or cardiovascular risks, are urged to take preventive steps, including regular health check-ups, maintaining optimal blood pressure levels, and staying warm in colder temperatures," Dr Bundela said.

If someone suffers a brain haemorrhage it is important to rush the patient to the nearest emergency department at the earliest.

Common signs of brain haemorrhage can encompass a range of symptoms, such as sudden severe headaches, weakness or numbness on one side of the body, difficulty speaking or understanding speech, vision disturbances, dizziness or loss of balance, nausea or vomiting without an apparent cause, and seizures.

In some cases, there might be a loss of consciousness or altered mental state.

"Time is of utmost essence in managing brain haemorrhage. Swift and coordinated medical intervention is crucial, involving stabilising vital signs, ensuring proper oxygenation, and controlling blood pressure to prevent complications," Dr. Vaish said.

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