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Tips To Be Fit: Hot Weather Can Endanger Your Heart

Tips to be fit: Hot weather can endanger your heart


Heart attack deaths peak not only in the winter but also during the heat of summer, according to the American Heart Association.

When the temperatures rises, your heart has to beat faster and work harder to pump blood to the surface of your skin to assist with sweating to cool your body. If your body can’t cool itself fast enough, a strain is put on your heart, and your organs can begin to suffer damage. When the body overheats you develop hyperthermia, is a condition in which the body’s core becomes overheated. This condition coupled with dehydration results in an electrolyte imbalance that causes people to go into cardiogenic shock.

Researchers have found:

Low temperature combined with high humidity accounted for a majority of the cardiovascular disease death burden; this effect was particularly significant for males, youth, those with low education and those who live in coastal areas.

Temperature had a greater impact on cardiovascular disease death when combined with high humidity, exacerbating the temperature effects on those with existing cardiac health problems.

High temperature and high humidity were associated with more significant risks in coastal areas than in inland areas.

There was a positive correlation between the number of cardiovascular disease deaths and relative humidity.

When the temperature reaches 70 degrees and the humidity is 70 percent or higher, your heart has to begin to work harder just to cool your body. When the outdoor temperature climbs into the 80s or beyond and there is high humidity, the risk to your health also rises. If you have heart disease, it is especially critical that you avoid exercising when the temperature and the humidity are both high. You should delay or not do any intense outdoor exercise until the temperature has dropped and the humidity has reduced. You can also move your exercise into an air conditioned gym.

Another important issue to consider when planning your exercise during hot weather is that some common heart medications, such as beta-blockers and diuretics, can also make you more susceptible to heat. Your doctor can talk to you about hot weather exercise guidelines that make sense for you based on your medical history and current prescribed medications.

Everyone is at risk during hot weather, but the risks are higher for people with heart disease or high blood pressure. Heat stroke can happen after only a short time in hot weather. Heat exhaustion can be the result of days of exposure to hot weather and can progress to heat stroke. Heat waves, which are long periods of hot weather, can make you ill slowly and make it harder for you to realize the seriousness of your symptoms. You should be mindful of how you feel each day during a heat wave. Check on your older and younger family and friends.

Tips to stay cool and safe during hot weather

Avoid vigorous physical activity in hot weather. There is no job or exercise program worth risking your life. Make plans to complete jobs when the weather is cooler. Move your exercise program indoors.

Stay hydrated. Drink water and sports drinks that contain electrolytes. Water is critical to all of your body functions. Electrolytes help balance hydration in your body. Electrolytes also help keep the body’s natural electrical system, which regulates your heartbeat.

Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages. These beverages can cause dehydration.

Stay in a cool environment. Use your air conditioning. If you don’t have an air conditioner, use fans and periodically apply cool water to your skin. If your home is too hot, go to an air-conditioned mall, senior center, friend’s house or library. Go anywhere that’s cool enough to keep your body temperature under control. If you are not able to leave your home, ask for help from friends, family, or your local town or city services.

You should wear light-colored, lightweight clothing. Light-colored clothing reflects the sun’s rays, rather than absorbing them like dark clothing. Avoid heavyweight fabrics that trap body heat. Lightweight fabrics allow heat to escape and allow for your natural sweating processes to cool you off.

Don’t go outside without sunblock. A sunburn will make it harder for your body to stay cool.

Ollie Jay of the University of Sydney in Australia and colleagues conducted a study to examine the effect of fan use at temperatures and humidities that can no longer be physiologically tolerated without rapid increases in heart rate and core body temperature.

The study subjects all wore shorts and T-shirts. Eight healthy males with an average age of 23 years sat in a chamber maintained at temperatures equal to 97 degrees. Each temperature was tested with and without an 18-inch fan facing the participant from about 3 feet. After a 20-minute baseline period, relative humidity was increased in 15 equal steps from 25 percent to 95 percent at 97 degrees and from 20 percent to 70 percent at 108 degrees. Heart rate and core temperature of the study participants were measured throughout.

The researchers found that the electric fans prevented heat-related elevations in heart and core temperature up to approximately 80 percent relative humidity at 97°F and 50 percent relative humidity at 108°F. Thus, contrary to existing guidance, fans were effective cooling devices for those without air conditioning during hot and humid periods.

Heart conditions that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest

Life-threatening heart problem are more likely to develop in people with pre-existing conditions, such as:

Coronary artery disease. Most cases of sudden cardiac arrest occur in people who have coronary artery disease. In coronary artery disease, your arteries become clogged with cholesterol and other deposits, reducing blood flow to your heart. This can make it harder for your heart to conduct electrical impulses smoothly.

Heart attack. If a heart attack occurs, often as a result of severe coronary artery disease, it can trigger ventricular fibrillation and sudden cardiac arrest. In addition, a heart attack can leave behind areas of scar tissue. Electrical short circuits around the scar tissue can lead to abnormalities in your heart rhythm.

Enlarged heart (cardiomyopathy). This occurs primarily when your heart’s muscular walls stretch and enlarge or thicken. In both cases, your heart’s muscle is abnormal, a condition that often leads to heart tissue damage and potential arrhythmias.

Valvular heart disease. Leaking or narrowing of your heart valves can lead to stretching or thickening of your heart muscle or both. When the chambers become enlarged or weakened because of stress caused by a tight or leaking valve, there’s an increased risk of developing arrhythmia.

Congenital heart disease. When sudden cardiac arrest occurs in children or adolescents, it may be due to a heart condition that was present at birth (congenital heart disease). Even adults who’ve had corrective surgery for a congenital heart defect still have a higher risk of sudden cardiac arrest.

Electrical problems in the heart. In some people, the problem is in the heart’s electrical system itself instead of in the heart muscle or valves. These are called primary heart rhythm abnormalities and include conditions such as Brugada’s syndrome and long QT syndrome.

Some other risk factors

Sudden cardiac arrest is linked with coronary artery disease. The same factors that put you at risk of coronary artery disease may also put you at risk of sudden cardiac arrest. These include:

A family history of coronary artery disease.


High blood pressure.

High blood cholesterol.



A sedentary lifestyle.

Drinking too much alcohol (more than two drinks a day).

Other factors that may increase your risk of sudden cardiac arrest include:

A previous episode of cardiac arrest or a family history of cardiac arrest.

A previous heart attack.

A personal or family history of other forms of heart disease, such as heart rhythm disorders, congenital heart defects, heart failure and cardiomyopathy.

Age — the incidence of sudden cardiac arrest increases with age.

Being male — men are two to three times more likely to experience sudden cardiac arrest.

Using illegal drugs, such as cocaine or amphetamines.

Nutritional imbalance, such as low potassium or magnesium levels.

If you feel you or you think someone else is being affected from the heat, or if you encounter someone who has collapsed or is found unresponsive, call 911 or the emergency number in your area. If the unconscious person is a child and you’re alone, administer CPR, or chest compressions only, for two minutes before calling 911 or emergency medical help or before using a portable defibrillator.

Perform CPR. Quickly check the unconscious person’s breathing. If he or she isn’t breathing normally, begin CPR. Push hard and fast on the person’s chest at the rate of 100 to 120 compressions a minute. If you’ve been trained in CPR, check the person’s airway and deliver rescue breaths if you have protective gear after every 30 compressions. If you haven’t been trained, just continue chest compressions. Allow the chest to rise completely between compressions. Keep doing this until a portable defibrillator is available or emergency personnel arrive.

Use a portable defibrillator, if one is available. If you’re not trained to use a portable defibrillator, the unit will give you direction after you turn it on. Deliver one shock if advised by the device and then immediately begin CPR starting with chest compressions, or give chest compressions only, for about two minutes. Continue CPR until the unit advises you it needs to deliver another shock.

Story Credit: http://www.phillytrib.com/news/tips-to-be-fit-hot-weather-can-endanger-your-heart/article_862a55e5-a712-5dad-831f-eafd2e969dca.html

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