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    Heart Health During Hot Weather
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    James Beckerman, MD, FACC posted:
    Hot summer weather means patriotic celebrations, backyard barbecues, family road trips, and increased outdoor activity. During summer days, remember that it's always a good idea to make sure to protect yourself from the effects of heat and dehydration as you are spending more time (hopefully!) exercising outside and participating in outdoor activities. Even though heart attacks are more common during the winter months, avoiding dehydration will help decrease your heart attack risk during the summer.

    Fortunately, your cardiovascular system is pretty adaptable when it comes to the heat. As you become dehydrated from sweating, your heart rate goes up appropriately, and your blood vessels dilate to allow your body to cool down. But if you don't stay on top of things, it's actually pretty easy for your body to become significantly dehydrated. This can place an extra stress on the heart. It beats more quickly and more vigorously to try to counteract the tendency toward a lower blood pressure that can develop due to lower blood volume and dilated blood vessels.

    Here are some key points to keep in mind to avoid excess stress on your cardiovascular system during hot weather.

    Stay hydrated and maintain electrolytes. It's also important to remember that as we sweat, we not only lose water, but we also lose electrolytes like sodium and potassium. These two elements play a role in maintaining the body's general functions, and have an important specific role in maintaining the heart's rhythm. Extreme swings in your body's potassium level especially increases the risk for both abnormally slow and fast heart rhythms, which can potentially be dangerous for your heart. Replenishing your electrolytes is an important component of safe hydration.

    If you have a history of heart disease or congestive heart failure, your body might be especially sensitive to swings in heart rate that can occur from dehydration, or the effects of losing or gaining too much water weight too quickly.

    Monitor your symptoms closely. Nausea, dizziness, and cold skin are signs you have taken your activity too far.

    Track your weight changes. Monitor your weight changes during the hottest weather. Losing or gaining two pounds or more from day to day is a fairly reliable sign of changes brought about by to water weight -- exercise won't help you lose fat that quickly.

    When in doubt, see your doctor if you have any concerns regarding outdoor exercise or participating in other activities during hot weather.
    And if you're lucky, you belong to an air-conditioned gym!

    How do you work to keep your cardiovascular system safe while participating in summertime outdoor activities and still beat the heat? Share your tips with the community for warm weather exercise or heat remedies and relief.


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