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Heat Can Kill - How To Keep The Heart Healthy In Summers?

During summers it is important for patients suffering from heart diseases to be aware of some facts. Dr U Kaul gives the facts

Heat Can Kill - How To Keep The Heart Healthy In Summers?

How does summer affect the patients with heart disease?

During summers it is important for patients suffering from heart diseases to be aware of some facts, which can lead them to have a trouble free summer.

Soaring temperatures, excessive perspiration and insensible water loss due to the heat is an added burden on the heart.

Patients taking diuretics (water pills) need to be more careful. It is seen often that the requirement of blood pressure medicines can come down during the summer months and in particular for those patients needing high dose of diuretics. It is advisable to see your doctor for the adjustment of medicines especially the diuretics.

It is a common perception that due to excessive sweating there is loss of salt and people increase the intake of salt. This is wrong and can lead to increase in the blood pressure.

What are the precautions patients with heart failure and those with stents and prosthetic valves should take?

Patients with enlarged hearts and heart failure are often on restricted fluids in addition to diuretics, It is advisable for such people to prevent going out exposing them selves to high temperatures which brings sweating and disturbs the fluid balance leading to problems like profound weakness, giddiness, unconsciousness, etc.

Patients with coronary stents and those with valve replacements need to be extremely careful. Excessive sweating due to strenuous exercises in hot environment can render the blood more prone to clotting and complicate matters like clotting of the valve or the stent. Proper hydration by plenty of cool water, lemonade, mild beverages are very helpful. Exercise in a cool place such as an air-conditioned gym, or early in the morning or later in the evening.

Diabetes being a common association with heart disease, what are special tips for diabetic patients?

If you have diabetes, dehydration also can occur when blood glucose is not under control. When blood glucose is elevated, this can lead to an increase in the body's excretion of urine. To prevent dehydration drink plently of caffeine-free fluids such as water, seltzer, sugar-free drinks like iced tea, and lemonade. Limit your intake of alcohol. Store your blood glucose meter, strips and insulin in a cool, dry place. Do not store insulin in extreme temperatures. Never store insulin in the freezer, direct sunlight or in the car or in the glove compartment of the car. Examine your vial of insulin. Clear insulin (Regular, Humalog, Novolog, Apidra, Lantus, Levimir) should remain clear. NPH insulin should not have any clumping or "frosting" on the vials.

Heat Wave Safety Tips
  • Slow down - strenuous activities should be reduced, eliminated or rescheduled to the coolest time of the day. Individuals at risk should stay at the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors.
  • Dress for Summer - lightweight light coloured clothing reflects sunlight and heat and helps the body maintain normal temperatures.
  • Put less fuel on your fires. Foods like proteins that increase metabolic heat production also increase water loss.
  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages
  • Do not take salt tablets unless prescribed by a physician. People on salt restricted diet should consult their physicians before increasing the salt intake.
  • Spend more time in air-conditioned places - air-conditioning at home and other places reduces the danger from heat. If you cannot afford an air-conditioner then spending some time each day in an air-conditioned environment affords some protection.
  • Don't get too much sun - sunburn makes the job of the heat dissipation that much more difficult.
  • Drink plenty of water or other non-alcoholic beverages. The body needs water to cool. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease, are on fluid restrictive diets, or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a physician before increasing their consumption of fluids.
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