JUL 28, 2022 9:00 AM PDT

Protecting Your Heart During Heat Waves

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), high temperatures can put significant stress on your heart. Depending on the individual, this stress can lead to cardiovascular issues like heart attacks, worsening of heart failure symptoms, and irregular heartbeat. High temperatures also seem to immediately increase the risk of stroke. To minimize the risk of cardiovascular issues during heat waves, the AHA recommends nine ways to protect yourself:

  1. Know the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Symptoms of heat exhaustion may include dizziness, headache, weakness, nausea, and skin that is cool and moist to the touch. If the skin becomes red and hot, body temperature exceeds 103 F, or a rapid pulse is observed, it may indicate heat stroke and require immediate medical attention.
  2. Stay hydrated by drinking water and other liquids. Hydration helps the heart and other muscles work smoothly and effectively.
  3. Avoid alcohol, which can dehydrate you.
  4. Find ways to stay cool, including going somewhere with air conditioning or using a fan and spray bottle to lower your body temperature.
  5. Keep up with all medications, especially if you are taking medications for heart disease. Because of the extra stress on the heart during high temperatures, it is particularly important to take medications on time.
  6. Avoid consuming large, heavy meals. Your body keeps cool by pushing blood to your skin, and digesting large meals sends extra blood to the stomach and digestive system.
  7. Wear appropriate clothing if you need to be outside. Clothing that is loose, lightweight, and white or light in color will keep you coolest. Additionally, avoid going outside during high temperatures, especially in the early afternoon.
  8. Avoid intense exercise during heat waves. Since exercise is important for overall health, moving exercise inside or participating in water sports are good alternatives to regular outdoor sports.
  9. Take care of those around you by checking on your friends, relatives, and neighbors. Many heat-related deaths are caused partially by isolation.


Sources: AHA, Stroke

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
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