The simple answer to “can the weather affect your heart health?” is yes, if the weather is extreme. Extreme heat can be a problem when you have a heart condition whether you are exercising in the heat or even just relaxing.
What Heat Does To Your Heart
Our body sheds heat in two ways and both put stress on your heart.
When we sweat, we whisk away heat when the air is dry. One teaspoon of sweat could cool down your entire bloodstream by 2 degrees. Unfortunately, if the humidity is high, like above 75%, there is too much moisture in the air, and evaporation becomes much more difficult.
Evaporation strains our cardiac system since it also helps to evaporate sodium, potassium, and other minerals we need for our muscles and water balance.
As long as the air temperature is lower than our body temperature, we radiate heat into the air. When the air temperature approaches or surpasses our body temp, this makes your heart beat faster and pump harder. On a hot day it may circulate our blood 2 – 4 times as much blood a minute as on a cool day.
When temperatures are hot, it causes your heart to beat faster. Once your body can’t cool itself, all the strain is on your heart, and the consequence can be a heat stroke, especially if you have heart disease or a cardiovascular disease. Organs can become damaged in this life threatening situation.
In addition, many who have a heart condition take medications which reduce the amount of water in their bloodstream. If you take diuretics or beta blocker, talk with The Bethencourt Group about how much water you should drink during hot weather vs a more mild climate.
Symptoms Of Heat Exhaustion And A Heat Stroke
Heat exhaustion can be an early red flag for a heat stroke. Feeling faint, fatigued, nauseous, and sweating profusely with your skin cool and clammy are all symptoms of heat exhaustion.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Don’t ignore the following symptoms: hot dry skin with no sweating, fever, pounding pulse, nausea or vomiting, confusion, and becoming unconscious.
Immediately remove yourself (or someone else) from the heat, drink cool water, and apply water to your skin.
Take Simple Precautions In The Heat
You can enjoy your summer by following some simple guidelines.
- Avoid being outside during the hottest times of day. Walk, exercise, or garden in the early morning hours or early evening.
- If you have no air conditioning, spend time at the mall, at a movie theater or somewhere that you can spend a few hours during the middle of the day.
- Be especially conscious of staying hydrated. Drink a glass of water an hour during really hot days. Avoid sugary drinks and alcohol.
- Eat light on hot days. Cold soups and fruits will keep you cool and hydrated.
- Wear light-weight and light colored clothing during hot days to reflect the sun’s rays.
- It’s always best to have a companion if you intend to venture out on really hot days.