How Summer Heat Can Affect Your Heart

bright blue sky with the sun causing lens flare

Hot summer weather can be hard on your heart.That’s because the way the human body works to keep its temperature around 98.6 degrees puts extra stress on the cardiovascular system.

For healthy people, the dog days of summer may be merely uncomfortable.Their bodies usually adapt to the weather changes without any ill effects.

But sweltering temperatures can cause trouble for people with damaged or weakened hearts and older people. When hot weather hits, their hearts may not pump efficiently enough to keep their bodies cool and their blood pressure in check.  Their body temperature can rise to dangerous levels leading to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

What can you do to beat the heat?  Heart hospital experts suggest these precautions:

Keep Cool – Spend time at the coolest place you can find, especially between noon and 3pm when the sun is strongest. Staying indoors with chilled air from air conditioning works best, whether at home or in an air-conditioned public place like a movie theatre or shopping mall. Electric fans work to a point, but can wind up moving around warm air.Taking cool showers or baths and applying a cold wet cloth or ice pack to the skin can also help.

Kick Back – It’s okay to take it easy in high heat. Put off or cancel strenuous activities, or reschedule them to early morning and evening hours, the cooler parts of the day. If you can’t wait for the temperature to drop, make sure you dress properly when braving the heat. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing, a hat and sunglasses. Apply water resistant sunblock and remember to reapply it every 2 hours. If you are a heart patient, check with your doctor before heading outdoors.

Drink Up – Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water or other non-alcoholic beverages. Avoid coffee, tea and alcohol which can increase water loss or dehydration. Limit sugary drinks like soda and fruit juice because they are not absorbed as quickly and easily as plain water.

Eat Light – Create summer menus of smaller meals. Fill your plate with cold fruits, vegetables and salads. Eating cool light fare helps your stomach work less and provides extra liquid.  

Keep these tips in mind to enjoy a healthy, fun-filled summer, no matter what the weather brings.

The HeartCare Institute at Riverside Community Hospital is dedicated to effectively treating and combating heart disease.If you would like to learn more about our comprehensive services, call Riverside Community Hospital at (951) 788-3000.

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