Heat Waves and Heart Disease. There Is a Connection!

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Summer is officially here and most of us are looking forward to outdoor barbeques, beach days and fun in the sun. While most of us know to protect our skin from the sun, we don’t give too much thought to our hearts.

Protecting the heart in the summer months is especially important for those who know they have a heart problem.

“In a hot environment, the body attempts to dissipate excess heat, mainly by sweating, to maintain a reasonably normal body temperature." Said Dr. S. Jay Mathews, a cardiologist at Bradenton Cardiology Center. "The need to dissipate heat places added stress on your cardiovascular system, and this stress may cause the symptoms of your underlying heart disease to worsen,”

Dr. Mathews said that medication is not always the solution. In some cases it may make patients more susceptible to heart problems in the heat.

“Beta blockers, ace inhibitors and calcium channel blockers can amplify the body’s response to heat,” Dr. Mathews said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list cardiovascular disease as the underlying cause of death in 57% of cases of hyperthermia.

Hyperthermia is elevated body temperature due to failed thermoregulation, or a lack of proper sweat, that occurs when a body produces or absorbs more heat than it dissipates.

Headaches, heavy sweating, cold or moist skin, chills, dizziness, a weak or rapid pulse, muscle cramps, nausea and vomiting are warning signs that someone may be experiencing heat stroke.

High temperatures from the warm summer months and heart disease are an unhealthy combination.

“While everyone should take precautions during a heat wave, it is especially important to do so if you have heart disease. The most important thing to do is to stay in a cool environment during the heat of the day,” Mathews explained.

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