Ask the Cardiologist: The Effect Extreme Heat has on the Heart

Dr. Maciej Malinski is on the medical staff at Sherman Hospital. He has been kind enough to answer some frequently asked questions related to maintaining a healthy heart in his Ask the Cardiologist series. To see all posts Dr. Malinski has written, just type “Ask the Cardiologist” into the search bar on the right.

Extreme weather conditions always affect people with chronic ailments and diseases. It was observed long ago that during extreme heat waves, there is an increase in the rate of heart attacks and decompensated heart failure. Our body cools itself by sweating.

The higher the temperature and humidity, the more vessels in the skin the body opens up to expand the cooling surface. For the heart, this means that there are more vessels to pump the blood through, so the heart has to beat faster to provide sufficient flow. A faster-beating heart means more work for the heart muscle and people with more advanced heart disease may not be able to compensate for this increase in workload.

As a result, we see more patients with heart attacks or decompensated heart failure. During extreme heat periods, patients with chronic heart conditions should avoid strenuous activities, stay in an air-conditioned environment, and ensure appropriate hydration.

Also, when sweating, we lose salt and minerals. The task of balancing this loss of salt with a heart failure patient’s salt-restricted diet becomes a difficult one. For these patients, the safest way to replenish fluids is by drinking sport beverages, which usually have some salt and minerals.

Sherman Hospital has an excellent Heart Failure Recovery Center to help our patients with these problems.

Do you have a question for Dr. Malinski? To submit your question, post it in the comments section below, visit the Sherman Health Facebook page, or email with the subject line “Question for Dr. Malinski.”

This post is published by Sherman Health to provide general health information. It is not intended to provide personal medical advice, which should be obtained directly from your physician.

About Sherman Health

Sherman Health has provided medical care to Northern IL since 1888, and is currently home to a network of over 600 physicians. The Sherman blogs are edited by me, Luke. Questions? Comments? Links? Email address is luke at shermanhealth dot com.
This entry was posted in Ask the Cardiologist, Healthy Tips, Heart, News. Bookmark the permalink.

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