How Summer Heat Affects Your Heart Health

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with a heart condition , your cardiologist has probably recommended lifestyle changes, a medication regimen, and other treatment methods. While you may already know that your diet can affect your heart health, you might not know that the weather can, too. Before the temperatures rise this summer, talk to your heart doctor about what you need to know to keep your heart healthy.

Toweling after a Run

Increased Stress on the Heart
Your body naturally produces heat as glucose is converted to energy. Additionally, your body maintains a relatively high internal temperature. However, the air temperature can upset this balance. Since your body can’t manufacture less heat, it must disperse of the excess heat. It can do so via radiation. When the temperatures outdoors rise, the blood vessels relax, enabling greater blood flow. This allows blood to flow to the cooler skin, radiating heat to the air. Unfortunately, this method doesn’t work when the temperature outdoors is close to your body temperature. Your body can also cool itself down by sweating; however, this is ineffective when the humidity is above 75 percent. Both of these methods exert  excess amounts of stress on your heart . While those without heart conditions may not notice any ill effects, those with atherosclerosis and other heart issues may suffer the consequences. Excess heat can worsen certain medical conditions such as heart failure.

Increased Risk of Heat-Related Illnesses
Those with heart conditions have an increased risk of heat-related illnesses that can be life-threatening, such as heat stroke. This can be due to medications often used for heart conditions, which lower the water content of the bloodstream. This can lead to dehydration. Other medications, such as beta blockers, slow the heartbeat and limit circulation, preventing the body from cooling itself via radiation.

Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of heat strokes and heat exhaustion.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion:  Headaches, heavy sweating, cold, moist skin, chills, dizziness or fainting, weak and rapid pulse, muscle cramps, fast shallow breathing, nausea, vomiting.
Symptoms of heat stroke : warm, dry skin with no sweating, strong and rapid pulse, confusion or unconsciousness, high fever, throbbing headaches, nausea, vomiting or both.

The cardiology team at  Cardiac Solutions  offers extensive patient support and education initiatives to help you learn how to live well after being diagnosed with a heart condition. For more information about safeguarding your heart health this summer, schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified cardiologists in Peoria, Sun City West, Avondale, or Glendale. You can reach us at (623) 208-5305.

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