How Does Hot Weather Affect Heart Health?
Posted by Stethoscope.com on Jul 15th 2022
If you experience any cardiovascular abnormalities and notice a more difficult time feeling your best in extreme heat, there could be an underlying reason. Luckily, with greater understanding, you can learn what is putting the most stress on your body and take action to support your heart this summer.
Heat Puts Stress on the Heart
Hot weather strains the heart because it begins to beat faster as it works harder to keep your temperature down. In fact, on high-temperature days, your body may circulate double or up to four times as much blood during the day.
The more your body needs to increase blood flow, the harder your heart will continue to pump. When arteries narrow, it can make the effort even more strenuous on the heart. You may even sometimes experience symptoms like dizziness, fatigue, or nausea.
Decrease systematic stress by eating cooling foods, resting in the shade, wearing airy clothing, and avoiding the hottest time of the day outside, typically between 11 and 3 pm.
You can also become more dehydrated due to increased perspiration, which also stresses the entire body, including the heart. While sweat helps cool the body, it decreases hydration and takes along with it essential minerals like sodium and potassium, which are necessary for nerve transmission and homeostasis of the body.
Make sure you drink a lot of fluids, and if you begin to feel dizzy or uncomfortable, you will need to immediately rest and replenish your fluids with beverages like water or juice. You may also want to slightly elevate your feet and gently place a cool rag over your forehead to begin the cooling process.
Stay away from alcohol or caffeine as they may dehydrate the body even further and add more hydrating foods like fresh fruit to your diet for a sweet replenishment of minerals and water.
Some Heart Medications Lower Tolerance
Certain medications like beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, and ace receptor inhibitors may make your cardiovascular system more sensitive to high temperatures.
Some medicines decrease hydration by removing fluids from the body and some slow the heart rate, which can mean your body may circulate less blood than normal when overheated. Before going out this summer, ask your doctor how your medications could impact your sensitivity to heat.
Harder to Enjoy an Active Lifestyle
Getting enough exercise is crucial to a healthy heart and circulation. However, due to immense heat, you may find yourself becoming more immobile due to the discomfort.
It’s still important to find ways to be active. For example, activities like swimming or workouts in a climate-controlled environment can help you boost circulation and keep your heart healthy without the excess stress on your body.
These Workarounds Can Help Your Heart This Summer
While people who have heart conditions may respond more negatively to the stress heat places on their cardiovascular system, that doesn’t mean they can’t find ways to cope and fully enjoy their summer! Check out our list here to find easy workarounds for better heart health in the summer.