Be Careful In the Summer Heat if You Have Heart Disease
June 17, 2019
Enjoy fun in the sun this summer -- but be cautious if you or someone in your family has heart disease or a congenital heart condition, says Chad Raymond, DO, a cardiologist with University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute at UH Ahuja Medical Center.
Warm Weather Can Stress Your Heart
“Warm weather puts stress on everyone’s heart by causing it to beat faster and work harder to keep the body cool,” Dr. Raymond says. “But people with heart disease or heart conditions, including children, don’t adapt as easily. This means they are at risk for heat stroke.”
In fact, sweating, the body’s natural response to overheating, can be risky for people with heart disease. It removes not only water but also necessary minerals from the body, causing added stress on the heart.
“Additionally, some medicines people take for heart disease remove fluid from the body, which increases their risk,” Dr. Raymond says. This category includes diuretics and beta blockers.
Some other common heart medicines such as ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers change the way the body responds to the heat.
“We recommend that heart patients continue taking their medications as prescribed and be aware you may need to drink more water to keep your body in balance,” Dr. Raymond says. “If you have questions about your heart medicine and warm weather, check with your cardiologist.”
How to Safeguard Your Heart During Hot Weather
UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute cardiologists recommend that people with heart disease or a heart condition follow the same guidelines about activity and warm weather as everyone else. That includes:
- If you are planning on participating in vigorous exercise and aren’t used to it or are taking up a new sport, make an appointment with your doctor to get checked out thoroughly and get his or her approval.
- While outdoors – or indoors without air conditioning – during warm or humid weather, drink plenty of water. That means a minimum of eight 8 oz. glasses a day, even if you don’t feel thirsty, and more if you are exercising or doing something active.
- Avoid being in the sun during the hottest time of day (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.), which is smart for skin cancer prevention, too.
- Protect infants and children with a congenital heart condition from overheating: Keep them in air conditioning when it is hot outside, dress them in light layers and make sure they drink enough water (at least six to eight 8-oz. glasses a day for kids over age 5 and teens).
“Enjoy the summer, use common sense and ask your cardiologist if you have questions about your medicines or what you can or can’t do,” Dr. Raymond says. “We are here to help you live your healthiest life possible.”
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