Summer is finally here! Blossoming flowers, chirping birds and clear skies make the summer a sense captivator. With the abundance of renewed energy it brings us, we might take on new challenges of outdoor exploration, or seek outlets for community bonding with the help of festivals, cook outs and reunions. With so many new and exciting activities awaiting us in the summer months, we often forget that with the gorgeous summer days come hot and often humid temperatures.
Most people are familiar with the typical summer health prevention methods of sunscreen protection for the skin, hydration for the body and repellant for our pesky outdoor neighbors— bugs. But, what about the specific needs of our heart during summer months?
As the body tries to cope with changing temperatures, summer can put extra strain on the heart. Most healthy people can tolerate these changes without missing a beat, but these changes can be especially hard for people with heart failure (or those at risk for heart failure), in the hot and humid climate.
The American Heart Association provides some great tips that everyone can use to guide their heart health precaution in the heat:
• Get off on the right foot. You probably sweat the most in your shoes, so choose well-ventilated shoes and look for socks that repel perspiration. Foot powders and antiperspirants can also help with sweat.
• Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing in breathable fabrics such as cotton, or a newer fabric that repels sweat. Add a hat and/or sunglasses.
• Drink up. Before you get started, apply a water-resistant sunscreen with at least SPF 15, and reapply it every two hours. Stay hydrated by drinking a few cups of water before, during and after your exercise. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.
• Take regular breaks. Find some shade or a cool place, stop for a few minutes, hydrate and start again.
If you or someone you know is experiencing the following symptoms, consult with your physician immediately.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
• warm, dry skin with no sweating
• strong and rapid pulse
• confusion and/or unconsciousness
• high fever
• throbbing headaches
• nausea, vomiting or both
For more information about how to protect your heart from the heat, visit the American Heart Association website, today.