Heart Health in the Heat

Heart Health in the Heat

Exercise is important and is an effective way of staying healthy. However, this summer when you step out for a walk or run, there are certain factors that you need to be aware of, especially if you have heart problems.

How does the heat affect heart health? Heat can act against many physiological processes that occur in the body.

  • Sweating: The common process of sweating, which occurs to cool one’s body, is involved with loss of bodily fluids, lowering your blood pressure and initiating your heart to beat faster. In this way, heat can place an enormous burden on your heart and circulatory system.
  • Radiation: Heat naturally moves from a warmer region to a cooler region. During extreme heat, blood flow is rerouted more to your skin, increasing the heart’s function.
  • Heart medication: Certain heart medicines such as diuretics deplete the body of sodium, thereby exaggerating your body’s response to heat. Beta blockers slow the heartbeat, limiting effective heat exchange. Despite this, it is important to continue with your prescribed medications and take precautionary methods to stay cool.

Problems with maintaining optimum body temperature varies with how hot weather affects different heart conditions.

  • A damaged heart slows down the heart rate, preventing effective heat release.
  • The arteries that are narrowed or blocked due to cholesterol can further prevent blood flow to the skin for heat to get dissipated.
  • uring summer, angina increases as heat increases your heart’s workload and demand for oxygen.
  • Certain conditions such as stroke can affect your brain’s response to dehydration, failing to signal the body of thirst.

Some of the warning signs during this summer are fatigue, headache, sweating, fainting, muscle cramps, shallow or fast breathing, disorientation or confusion, or muscle twitches.

Ways to Keep Your Cool

Here are ways you can stay active and beat the heat:

  • Stay hydrated with plenty of fluids
  • Avoid excess caffeine and alcohol as you can lose excess fluids from your body
  • Eat cold foods with high water content, such as cold soups, salads and fruits
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes that breathe, like cotton
  • Stay under the shade or indoors when the sun is at its peak; between 11am to 3pm
  • Use a good sunscreen and wear a hat when you step out in the sun
  • Avoid excessive physical activities
  • Exercise in the early mornings or evenings. Drink plenty of water when you exercise

With these tips, stay heat safe and heart healthy this summer.