9 ways to protect our heart in the heat

With much of the nation already sweating from a historic heat wave in July, health experts are warning us all to be cautious.

Our favorite summer playlist probably has more songs about surfing than potential health risks, so let's take a look at what we can do for our hearts in the summer heat!

“Hot weather is like a stress test for the heart,” says Dr. Lance Becker, chief of emergency medicine at Northwell Health, a New York-based health care provider, - “and some people react badly to that kind of stress. They can have a heart attack. The symptoms of congestive heart failure can get much worse, or they can have heart rhythm problems.”


Our heart and brain are also exposed to the risks of heat

A 2020 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited research showing that hospital admissions for cardiovascular problems spiked in the days following rising temperatures. And a 2017 review of research published in the American Heart Association Stroke journal concluded that warm temperatures increase the direct risk of ischemic stroke caused by a blood clot, the most common type of stroke.

Human thermoregulation is all about blood flow. A healthy body extinguishes heat by sending blood to the skin. We also sweat, and as the sweat evaporates, it takes away more heat. This is usually a very good mechanism,” - says Dr. Becker, -but excessive heat can suppress it. And then things can get very, very dangerous.”

Anyone with a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke or obesity is at increased risk for heat-related problems, according to Dr. Rachel M. Bond, director of the Women's Heart Health Center at Dignity Health in Arizona. Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control warns that blood vessels and nerves in people with diabetes can be damaged, which can affect their ability to cool down.


What can we do to protect our health?

Let's get to know these symptoms

Signs of heat exhaustion include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, and cool, clammy skin.We need to move to a cool place or wrap our body in a wet towel. If the symptoms do not improve within an hour, we must definitely consult a doctor!

Heat stroke is more severe. Symptoms include a fast, strong pulse, body temperature around or above 39.5 degrees Celsius, and red, hot, dry skin. "This is actually a medical emergency," says Dr. Bond, "and people should call the emergency."


Let's drink a lot of water

Hydration helps the heart pump and the muscles work more efficiently. The exact amount of fluid required may vary. Dr. Bond generally encourages his patients to drink at least 1.9 liters (0,5 gallon) per day, unless they have cardiovascular disease that limits them.

But not alcohol

Avoid it because it can dry you out.

Let's keep cool

If we don't have air-conditioning or can't get to a place that does, Dr. Becker recommends getting a fan and a spray bottle or wet cloth. “The combination of sitting right in front of the fan and then either spraying some water on your body or taking a cold washcloth and soaking your body and letting the water evaporate off your skin helps you cool down. In fact, that's one of the things that we, emergency department workers do.” - says.

Let's pay attention to our medication

Because of the extra strain on their bodies, heart patients must be diligent about following prescriptions.

In certain situations, medical assistance may be required. People with high blood pressure or heart failure can use diuretics to rid the body of excess fluid, but may need to increase their fluid intake to cope with the heat. "It's a messy situation," Becker says, - "so we usually recommend that these people just avoid heat stress, because it's very difficult to treat properly."


Let's be careful what we eat

If you grew up enjoying summer staples like watermelon or cucumbers, go for it, Bond says: they are full of water. But one should avoid heavy foods, Becker says. When your body is struggling to push blood to your skin, it's not the best time to eat a big meal that requires more blood to your digestive system.

Let's pay attention to what time we move out

In the near-desert heat, Dr. Bond and other doctors regularly remind people not to go outside in the early afternoon and encourage people to wear loose, light, light-colored clothing. Between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., the heat and UV radiation are at their highest, so take a siesta when you can.


Let's train smart

Exercise is important for long-term health even in hot weather, but if you can, move your training to an air-conditioned gym or start swimming.

Parents and coaches can encourage youth sports, but they must be aware of the risks, so we do not encourage children to play sports in the afternoon.

Let's take care of each other

This is truly a time for community spirit. Social isolation is a root cause of many heat deaths. We should check neighbors, friends and relatives at risk. Don’t forget to say: “It will be very hot. Can I help you?"

For example, we ask them to share their time with us in an air-conditioned space, because this is really a time when this kind of spirit can save people's lives.

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