by Dr Hemanth Kaukuntla | 02 MAY 2018
Can heat of the sun damage your heart? Can hot weather damage your heart? The answer is YES it can. More so if you have mild heart problems already
How does hot weather affect your heart?
When the weather is hot our body sweats to cool down and bring the body temperature down.
But in this process, the body looses fluids. This drop in the volume of fluids in the body can drop your blood pressure and make your heart beat faster.
Most people will tolerate this but if you have a heart problem, extreme heat may place an extra burden on your heart and circulation causing angina or chest pain and in some conditions increase heart beat or palpitations. Therefore it’s particularly important to stay cool and look after yourself.
If you have coronary heart disease, you may find you start to experience angina or chest pain which worsens during hot weather, because hot weather increases the workload on your heart and the demand for oxygen, especially when you are more active.
It’s particularly important to stay cool if you have heart failure - where your heart doesn't pump as well as it should. If you’ve been told to restrict your fluid intake, speak to your doctor about other ways to keep cool during summer. If you take water tablets and start to feel dizzy or light headed let your doctor know. Your dose can then be reduced or stopped for a little while, if needed, until you feel better.
Losing too much body fluid can increase your internal body temperature, which could be life-threatening if left untreated. Symptoms of heat stroke include sweating, cold clammy skin, dizziness, fainting, muscle cramps, heat rash, oedema (swelling) in the ankles, shallow or fast breathing, nausea and vomiting. If you suspect that you or someone else has heat stroke, get medical attention immediately.
Who are mostly at risk?
Elderly people and very young children have more difficulty in regulating their temperature and so can be more at risk from extreme temperatures
What can I do to keep cool?
Drink plenty of water or other sugar-free drinks (Though if you've been told to restrict your fluid intake for medical reasons you should speak to your GP)
Eat cold foods, particularly salads and fruit with a high water content
Keep your home is cool when you're staying indoors. This does not mean you need air conditioners - there are many ways of keeping house cool like keeping outside doors closed
Wear light clothes, loose-fitting cotton clothes.
Stay out of the heat in the hottest part of the day between 11am and 3pm.
If you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade.
Avoid extreme exercise during the heat periods
Check on your friends and relatives regularly to make sure they are cool and comfortable.
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