Heat Waves and Heart Health

thermometer. 3dAs the temperature increases so does the risk of having complications linked to heart disease.   Extreme summer heat can be dangerous for people who suffer from cardiovascular issues.  Studies show that cardiovascular deaths are more frequent during heat waves and complications are usually triggered by dehydration.

Dehydration can occur because of excess sweating. If the body is overheating, an increase in the production of sweat is needed to keep it cool.  In order to meet this demand, the heart has to work harder and faster to pump more blood to your skin. Dehydration also affects normal blood flow because a lack of fluid causes blood to thicken.  If the body cannot cool itself and strain is put on the heart, a person can suffer from heat stroke, heart attack or heart failure.

If the following symptoms of heat-related illness or exhaustion are present, it is recommended that medical attention is sought right away:

  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dark urine
  • Weakness
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Confusion
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Unconsciousness

There are several steps a person can take to reduce the risk of heart complications during extreme heat:

  • Keep hydrated- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. However, stay clear of beverages that may dehydrate you such as teas, alcohol or coffee.
  • Take cool baths or showers to help body keep cool.
  • Wear cool and loose fitting clothing.
  • Do not exercise or perform rigorous physical activity during extreme heat.
  • Stay in cooler environments

It is always important to remember to follow the suggested precautions to stay safe during the summer heat.