Categories: Cardiology

Heat and Heart Health

Severe heat conditions and higher temperatures have been consistently noticeable globally since the beginning of summer. This unusually high temperature may possess many harmful effects on physical health, cognitive ability, and mental wellness.

Although long vacations in summer are the best time for spending time outdoors with friends and family. But too much sun exposure causes many adverse effects on our health, such as:

  • Dehydration
  • Tiredness
  • Headache and dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heatstroke
  • Sunburn
  • Hot weather makes allergies and asthma conditions worsen

Summer effect on our heart

When the temperature rises in our surroundings, our body gets rid of extra heat through sweating and circulating more blood to our skin to normalize body temperature. The circulation of more blood in our body puts extra work on our heart to pump more blood. Our heart circulates two to four times more blood per minute in hot weather than in the winter season. Higher body temperature compels our hearts to pump harder and beat faster to recirculate more blood to our skin and dissipate heat.

Summer effect on a person with heart conditions

A healthy human can reverse the heart’s extra pressure in summer by increasing water intake. But for people with cardiovascular conditions, hot and humid days can be grievously dangerous. A person suffering from a heart condition, especially one who previously had a heart attack, cannot pump enough blood to dissipate heat, increasing the risk of further heart issues and increasing heat effects on our body.

How can we lower the risk of heart issues and stay safe in summer?

Healthy people can tolerate this hot and humid environment with slight modifications in their lifestyle. But people with a heart problem or older persons face a hard time coping with unnecessary stress and may suffer from fatal conditions, such as heart attack or stroke. We can lower the risk of heart problems with the following modification in our lifestyle:

  • Increase water intake: Staying hydrated in hot weather lowers the risk of many health issues. While staying outdoors or indoors, you should drink plenty of water (minimum eight glasses) during hot weather. When doing exercise or any other activities, increase your water or liquid intake to stay hydrated so that it doesn’t put extra strain on your heart.

Try to restrict your intake of beverages that contain high sodium, sugar, or salty, as they are dangerous for your heart health.

You should not drink alcohol and caffeinated beverages, as they increase dehydration and put extra pressure on the heart to pump blood to neutralize dehydration and waste disposition.

  • Stay indoors: You should avoid going outdoor during the hottest period of the day (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
  • Wear light clothes: cool-colored and breathable fabrics are beneficial during hot summer days.
  • Change your exercise schedule: If you love to exercise, plan your physical activity schedule early in the morning or at night, when the temperature is not too high.
  • Protect children with heart disease: If your newborn or child has a heart condition, you should protect them from overheating. Dress them in light clothes, keep them indoors, and make sure they drink plenty of water.
  • Keep taking all the medication as instructed by your doctor.
  • If you are on medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol level, or any other heart problem, you should be extra careful in the summers. As these drugs slower the heartbeat and increase urine output, they may also amplify the body’s response to heat.

With these simple modifications in our lifestyle, we can prevent many evitable heart problems. But, if you experience any symptoms, such as dizziness, muscle cramps, headache, nausea, or chest discomfort, immediately seek medical attention.

If you have any queries about your medication or what to do or can’t do, ask your healthcare provider, and enjoy the summer.

Dr. Anand Pandey, Director & Senior – CardiologyDharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi

Narayana Health

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