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Summer Heat and Humidity Puts Stress on the Heart

Summer Heat and Humidity Puts Stress on the Heart

According to Cardiologist Joseph Guarino, MD, “Extremes in temperatures can cause extra stress on the body including on the heart.”  As summer heat sets in with high humidity and temperatures, the heart pumps harder to initiate the sweating response that cools the body.

J Guarino SS
Cardiologist, Joseph Guarino, MD

Summer heat raises the risk of a heart attack, especially if you have an existing heart condition, diabetes or high cholesterol.  High heat also lowers blood pressure, causing the heart to beat faster.

What is a Heart Attack?

Myocardial infarction is the medical term for a heart attack. The most common cause of a heart attack is a blood clot that blocks a coronary artery. Often there is a slow buildup of plaque over the years that narrows one of the coronary arteries. Coronary arteries supply oxygen and blood to the heart. If blood flow is blocked, depriving the heart of oxygen, the heart muscle actually dies.

While chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack, “You can have chest pain without having a heart attack,” according to Dr. Guarino. “The chest pain could be a clue” that you are at risk for a heart attack.

Heart Attack Symptoms in Men

For men, in addition to chest pain, there are other other signs and symptoms of a heart attack including:

  • Anxiety
  • Cough
  • Fainting
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating

A heart attack without symptoms is known as a silent heart attack. Some individuals never experience chest pain. According to Dr. Guarino, women’s heart attack symptoms are often atypical compared with men’s and may or may not include chest pain.

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

  • Extreme or unusual fatigue
  • Weakness accompanied by anxiety, dizziness, fainting or lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, arms or upper back
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Indigestion, nausea or vomiting

Stress of any kind, physical and emotional, can be detrimental to the heart, Dr. Guarino said. And extreme summer heat and humidity can be one of those stressors on the heart. Follow these tips to safeguard your heart this summer:

Tips to Safeguard your Heart in Heat:

  • Hydrate and Eat Water-Rich Foods
  • Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine
  • Dress for Heat with Lightweight and Light Color Clothing
  • Stay Inside During Peak Sun Hours
  • Don’t Stop Taking Medications

Terms & Conditions

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