Hot & Humid conditions Tips for heart patients

Dr Harinder Singh Bedi
High environmental temperatures and humidity are uncomfortable for most of us, but for those with heart disease , they can be deadly. The heart responds to a rise in temperature by a faster pumping and a dilation of blood vessels of the skin. This favors heat loss . Moderate exercise may result in up to tenfold increase in heat production with a resultant rise in heart rate . Strenuous physical effort in hot and humid weather may be particularly deleterious in heart disease .
Possible Consequences in a Heart Disease patient
* Low threshold for heart attack
* Aggravation of heart failure
* Heart rhythm disorders ( arrhythmias)
* Kidney dysfunction
Keep Your Cool
Overall, individuals with heart disease should follow the same guidelines as healthy individuals, but with an extra helping of precaution:
— Stay inside during the hottest part of the day.
— If your home isn’t air conditioned or air cooled , try to find someplace in the house that is the coolest eg the basement.
— Limit your activity.
— Wear loose-fitting, light cotton clothing.
— Stay hydrated and avoid caffeine and alcohol.
— Have someone check in on you.
Keep Your Heart Cool :
* Fans, cross ventilation and cool baths are important
* Loose fitting, lightweight, light colored cotton clothing is essential. While working in Sydney I noticed the Australian campaign of – Slip-Slop-Slap {Slip on a full sleeved loose shirt, Slop on some sunscreen (to protect from skin cancer) and slap on a hat} – this is a very sensible one and useful for heart patients too.
* Your body needs more water in hot weather. If you have heart disease CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR for advice on how much water you should drink
Curtail unnecessary physical activity .
* Avoid over spiced hot foods and heavy meals
* Watch salt use .
* Avoid alcohol and caffeine .
* If you live alone, make sure a relative or neighbour checks on you regularly
However summer does not mean the end of your exercise activities. It’s best to plan your exercises early in the morning before the day heats up, or in the evening, when things start to cool down. If the weather is too unbearable, though, head indoors.. Take up an indoor sport, like badminton, table tennis or indoor aerobics and yoga . When it’s really hot out, swimming is the best exercise .
So – enjoy the summers – but stay cool !
(The author is Director Cardio Vascular Endovascular & Thoracic Sciences in Mohali, Punjab.)