Hot weather can affect your heart: 10 tips to keep your ticker healthy in summer heat& |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
- Heatwaves can affect the human body in a number of ways, including the heart
- People with cardiac issues need to take special precautions during summers
- Here’s what you can do to keep your heart healthy and stay safe during a heatwave
New Delhi: Several states across India, especially the northern regions, continued to reel under intense heatwave conditions, prompting actions to help prevent heat-related ailments. And if you’re living with a heart disease, heatwaves can be downright dangerous. The fact is, intense heat and humidity can lead to dehydration and salt loss (sodium and potassium), causing a series of health concerns.
People with underlying cardiac issues face a host of health problems during this season. If you have a heart condition, extreme heat can place an extra burden on the heart and circulation. But whether or not you have a heart problem, it’s important to take measures to stay cool and keep your ticker in tip-top shape when the temperature rises. Drinking plenty of water and other nutrient-rich fluids is one of the easiest and best things you can do to stay hydrated in summers.
What happens when you don’t drink enough water
Intense heat and constant sweating lower the fluid content in the body, resulting in dehydration causing a strain on the heart. Also, for patients with high blood pressure, when temperature and humidity is extreme during the summer, it causes added blood flow to the skin, the heart is then required to beat at a faster rate. This may cause the blood to circulate double the time per minute. This strain on the heart along with BP medications may result in a drastic fall in blood pressure.
The low BP and fast heart rate are big risk factors for those who are predisposed to or have a history of cardiac issues,” said Dr Vivek Mahajan, Consultant – Interventional Cardiologist – Fortis Hospital, Kalyan and Mulund, Mumbai. He added that patients with the risk of heart failure should consume up to 1.25 litres of water per day and limit salt intake.
Water and salt loss caused by sweating and intake of medications may lead to dangerously low levels of sodium and potassium. Low sodium in blood results in nausea, vomiting, headache, confusion, drowsiness, fatigue, restlessness, irritability, muscle weakness, cramps and seizures, or coma in extreme cases. Similarly, low potassium levels due to less water consumption may lead to muscle aches, cramps, palpitations and disturbances in heart rhythm leading to death. So drinking optimum amount of water is crucial in summer.
Elderly patients have less water content in the body, so the impact of water and salt loss is all the more prominent in elderly patients with high BP and heart failure. The risks of heart attacks increase in these individuals during the summers and are, hence, the most vulnerable group in need of care.
Tips to protect your heart in the heat
Here are some summer-friendly tips to help you keep your heart healthy:
- Drink enough water or other healthy fluids throughout the day to stay hydrated – especially during and after your exercise. Avoid consumption of caffeine and alcohol.
- Patients with a history of heart failure consuming very low water and salt may increase water intake (by 250-500ml/day) and salt intake should be tweaked after seeking your doctors’ advice.
- Eat smaller meals that won’t overload your belly. Include plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables in your diet that can help satisfy your hunger and give you extra fluid.
- Avoid vigorous physical activity in high heat (not even in balconies and terraces) – exercise indoors.
- Wear light-coloured, lightweight clothing (preferably cotton).
- Stay in a cool environment with air-conditioning or fans.
- Do not go out of your house during the hottest part of the day – between 11 am and 3 pm.
- Apply sunscreen, wear a hat and carry some water with you whenever you go out.
- People with high blood pressure should monitor their BP regularly. Consult your doctor if your BP is high or low. Medication dosages may need reductions in elderly patients with a history of heart failure and BP.
- Depending on symptoms, sodium and potassium in blood should be checked regularly.
Let’s take precautions to maintain our heart and overall health irrespective of the weather.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purpose only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.