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Summer Temps & Heart Health: Keeping You Cool as August Heats Up!
Tipping into the “dog days of summer” for much of the country means temps are getting hotter – which can be uncomfortable for everyone. But for people concerned about their heart health, hot, humid days can actually be dangerous.
Here’s why: If your temperature rises too much, your body works to shed the extra heat in two ways, both of which stress the heart.
Radiation: Like water flowing downhill, heat moves from warm areas to cooler ones. When the air around you is cooler than your body, you radiate heat to the air. But this transfer stops when the air temperature approaches body temperature. Radiation requires rerouting blood flow so more of it goes to the skin, which makes the heart beat faster and pump harder. On a hot day, it may circulate two to four times as much blood each minute as it does on a cool day.
Evaporation: Every molecule of sweat that evaporates from your skin whisks away heat – but it also strains the cardiovascular system. Sweat pulls much more than heat from the body; it also pulls out sodium, potassium, and other minerals needed for muscle contractions, nerve transmissions and water balance.
“If you’re a heart patient, older than 50 or overweight, you might need to take special precautions in the heat,” said Gerald Fletcher, M.D., professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, in Jacksonville, Fla.