How to prevent a summer heart attack; expert offers tips

Published on Apr 19, 2022 02:50 PM IST
  • Extreme heat can put a strain on your heart and increase your risk of heart attack. Here are expert-approved tips to take care of heart health in summer season.
In extreme heat conditions, there is an extra stress on the heart to pump more blood for normalising body temperature, which could also affect heart health and raise risk of summer heart attacks.(File photo)
In extreme heat conditions, there is an extra stress on the heart to pump more blood for normalising body temperature, which could also affect heart health and raise risk of summer heart attacks.(File photo)

Not just winters, summer heat too can raise your risk of heart attack, especially if you have an already existing heart condition, diabetes or high cholesterol. According to a study, very high heat can lower blood pressure, causing a person’s heart to beat faster and basically putting them at risk for a heart attack. Limiting your time spent outside especially in afternoons and adequate hydration can help prevent one from heart issues. (Also read: How extreme heat can lead to heart attack; prevention tips)

A research published in European Heart Journal looked at around 27,000 heart attack patients between 1987 and 2014 and found that between 2001 to 2014, when the average temperatures were higher than usual, the number of heart attacks went up.

Also in extreme heat conditions, there is an extra stress on the heart to pump more blood for normalising body temperature, which could also affect heart health and raise risk of summer heart attacks.

"With many areas of the country facing summer heat, people need to take extra care to protect their hearts. Precautions are on high priority especially for older adults and individuals with high blood pressure, obesity or a history of heart disease and stroke. In the hot season, the body tries to cool itself by transferring blood from major organs to under the skin. This change makes the heart pump more blood, putting it under extreme stress," says Dr. Gajinder Kumar Goyal, Director Cardiology, QRG Super Speciality Hospital, Faridabad.

Dr Goyal also adds that certain heart medications could make one sick during summer season and one is advised to take precautions while venturing out in heat.

“Some heart medications like angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and diuretics, which disturb blood pressure responses or lower sodium in body, can exaggerate the body’s response to heat and cause you to feel ill," he said.

The cardiologist noted that while infants and elderly are more prone to problems from heat, extreme temperatures can lead to health issues for anyone.

"Dehydration causes strain on your heart, putting it at risk. Hydration helps the heart more easily pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles. And it helps the muscles work effectively," adds Dr Goyal.

Tips to keep your heart healthy in hot weather

· Keep yourself hydrated; drink plenty of water before, during and after to compensate for the fluid loss in your body. Remember to drink before you feel thirsty and avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.

· Stay indoors in the early afternoon (about noon to 3 p.m.) because the sun is often at its strongest, putting you at higher risk for heat-related illnesses.

· It is advisable to wear lightweight, light-coloured clothing in breathable fabrics such as cotton, or a newer fabric that fights off sweat.

· Don’t forget to take regular breaks. You can find some shade or a cool place, stop for a few minutes, hydrate and start again

· Keep taking all medications as prescribed by the expert.

Signs of heat exhaustion:

· Headaches

· Excessive sweating

· Cold, moist skin, chills

· Feeling dizziness or fainting

· Muscle cramps

· Fast, shallow breathing

· Nausea, vomiting or both

"If you experience these symptoms, immediately go to a cooler place, stop exercising and cool down immediately by showering with cold water and re-hydrating. You may require seeking medical attention," says the cardiologist.

Signs when you need urgent medical attention:

· Warm, dry skin without sweating

· Experience confusion and/or unconsciousness

· Extreme fever

· Splitting headache

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