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Cardiovascular issues in warm weather

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13.07.2021

Cardiovascular issues in warm weather

Patients with cardiovascular diseases are sensitive to abrupt changes in weather and temperatures that are too high or too low. The hot summer days we are already experiencing can have a harmful effect on the cardiovascular system and require extra caution on the part of patients with heart diseases or chronic blood pressure conditions.

Effects of hot weather on heart function

High temperatures have a harmful effect on the heart system in patients with chronic heart conditions. They may experience cardiac rhythm disturbances, the most common one being atrial fibrillation due to dyselectrolytemia. It can be caused by an imbalance of ionized salts due to dehydration during heatwaves. This is a predisposing factor for the manifestation of arrhythmias.

High temperatures, together with outdoor physical activity and exercise, cause profuse sweating which can remove substantial amounts of electrolytes from the body and disrupts normal heart function. Drinking adequate amounts of fluids and staying hydrated is essential in patients undergoing diuretic therapy in order to avoid nausea or a collapse as a result of a sudden drop in blood pressure or dehydration.

A good preventative measure would be adjusting medication dosage, always after consulting a doctor, as well as increasing the intake of fluids – at least a liter more than usual.

Recommendations for patients with heart diseases

People with cardiovascular diseases benefit from vacationing in the mountains, as opposed to the seaside, avoiding being outdoors during the hottest times of the day – between 11am and 5pm, taking their blood pressure regularly and strictly monitoring its values, regular checkups with a cardiologist, drinking enough fluids – water, unsweetened tea, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, adjustment of medication dosage.

Effects of hot weather on blood vessels

High temperatures cause widening of the blood vessels and lower blood pressure. Patients with low blood pressure can experience spells of dizziness, weakness, or nausea. This necessitates controlling the diuretic therapy in heart patients. People taking medications for high blood pressure often need to have the dose reduced in summer, as blood pressure is naturally lower. Patients should never do this on their own and should always consult a specialist. Stopping any medication used to treat high blood pressure without consulting a doctor can be dangerous for your health and life.

Effects of hot weather on medications

Summertime affects not only the self-esteem and wellbeing of patients with cardiovascular diseases. Hot weather also affects some of the medications that people take. Certain groups of medications, such as calcium, cause swelling, which is much more pronounced in summer due to the vasodilating effect of the heat. Dose adjustment is required after a consultation with a doctor.

Tips to help patients with heart diseases stay healthy during summertime:

  • Increasing the intake of water is strongly recommended;
  • Avoid caffeine, fatty meats, alcohol, beer, black tea;
  • Minimize the consumption of fast carbohydrates – sweets, sugar, bread, as well as salt;
  • Get enough good-quality sleep in a cool and well-ventilated room;
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing, especially during long journeys, due to the risk of emboli caused by circulatory disorders from tight clothing;
  • It is recommended that you consult your doctor about adjusting the dose of medications.

What symptoms require immediate medical attention in patients with cardiovascular disease?

The following symptoms are disturbing and require immediate medical examination:

  • Chest pain that spreads into the left shoulder and arm.
  • Shortness of breath and palpitations which occur when the patient is at rest and intensify while the patient is lying down.
  • Headache in the back of the head.
  • Numbness in the limbs, difficulty seeing or speaking.
  • Fainting.

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