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Tips To Keep Your Heart Healthy During The Summer

The hot environment of summer can be tolerated by healthy individuals, however, according to a study, the tolerance to heat stress is quite impaired in people with heart diseases, putting them at increased risk of complications such as chronic heart failure or ventricular dysfunction that arises from heat-intolerance. [1]

Heat-related injury is often prevented by critical adjustments made by the heart such as elevations in sweating and skin blood flow to normalise the body's heat. However, when the heart functions are impaired, the thermal regulation of the body can be compromised when a person performs exercise or/and is exposed to the temperature of summer.

In this article, we will discuss tips to keep your heart healthy during the summer.

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1. Stay hydrated

Hypohydration or loss of water from the body not only impairs physical and mental performance, but the heart health, says a study. Acute hypohydration due to heat stress or prolonged exercise disturbs the blood pressure regulation, reduces cell functions of the heart and impairs vascular function, causing a number of heart conditions. [2]

2. Avoid vigorous exercises

According to a study, vigorous exercise in the heat can cause severe problems to the heart. This is mainly due to the increased demand for oxygen for exercising muscles and other vital organs.

When a person performs a vigorous exercise in the summer, the excessive heat increases the demand for blood flow in the active muscles, and thus, the demand for oxygen. This dual demand may cause the heart to pump blood with more force, leading to excessive heart-muscle contraction and high blood pressure. [3]

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3. Avoid caffeine

A study has shown that moderate consumption of caffeine and coffee is related to an increased risk of arrhythmia. It is a condition characterised by irregular heartbeats- either too fast or too slow.

Caffeinated coffee or drinks can have toxic effects on the heartbeats and may worsen the condition. Also, coffee is a natural diuretic that may increase the risk of dehydration. [4]

4. Prevent the risk of heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is the main cause of dehydration. When people are exposed to extreme heat, many symptoms follow such as nausea, muscle cramps, breathing problems and loss of electrolytes from the body.

These symptoms can cause weakness to people and put them at increased risk of heart conditions such as heart attack.

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5. Eat light meals

Healthy eating along with light eating should be the preference of the summer. Experts suggest that people with heart conditions should avoid heavy eating or eating junk foods in the summer to keep heart-related complications at bay.

This is because eating itself has thermogenic effects on the body. If we eat heavy foods, more heat will be generated in the body, and together with the heat of the environment, the effect can be excessively harmful. [5]

6. Avoid going out in the hottest hours

Outdoor activities during the summer should be minimised, especially for people with heart conditions. This is because, during peak hours, between 10 am to 2 pm, the heatwaves are higher and exposure to them may cause heat strokes.

To mention, heatwaves can increase the mortality rate in people with heart diseases or make their condition worse, says a study. [6]

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7. Avoid alcohol

Alcohols are diuretics, meaning they can increase the risk of dehydration in the body and also contribute to heat exhaustion. Consumption of alcohol increases the body's heat. High body temperature during the summer can either cause loss of electrolytes due to excessive sweating or impairs the vital organs and cause them dysfunctional.

8. Watch your medications

Certain heart medications such as beta-blockers can decrease the flow of blood in the body and prevent sweating, one of the essential ways to lose body heat. Other medications can also interfere with heat regulation and cause changes in blood pressure.

Therefore, keep a watch on your medications and if you are using them in summer, make ways to keep the body cool and maintain electrolyte balance.

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Other Ways To Keep The Heart Healthy In Summer

  • Eat less salt or salty foods.
  • Eat fruits and veggies that cool the body such as watermelon, muskmelon, cucumber, tomatoes, beans and ice apple.
  • Grill meat products instead of frying and also, consume lean meats.
  • Along with eating lighter, eat smaller meals at frequent intervals.
  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid taking stress
  • Wear light coloured and breathable clothes to keep your body cool.