This spring, many parts of the United States experienced historic heat waves. Now summer is officially underway, and experts are predicting hotter than normal temperatures across most of the country.
Extreme temperatures increase health risks for people with chronic conditions, including heart problems. If you do have a heart condition, here’s how to keep cool and protect yourself when temperatures rise.
How does hot weather affect the heart?
Not only does exposure to high heat increase the risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke, but it can also place a particular burden on heart health. It stresses the cardiovascular system and makes the heart work harder. This can increase the chance of heart attacks, heart arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), and heart failure.
Evaporation. Evaporating sweat helps cool you down by pulling heat away from your skin. When the air is dry, this works well. But when it’s hot and humid, sweat just sits on the skin as your body temperature rises.
When air temperature approaches or exceeds body temperature, especially in high humidity, the heart has to beat faster and pump harder to help your body shed heat. On a hot and humid day, your heart may circulate two to four times as much blood each minute compared with a cool day.
Some medicines meant to help the heart can add to problems on hot days. For example, beta-blockers slow the heartbeat and hinder the heart’s ability to circulate blood fast enough for effective heat exchange. Diuretics (water pills) increase urine output and raise the risk of dehydration.
How can you protect yourself and your heart when temperatures rise?
While exposure to high heat and heat waves affects everyone, having existing heart problems raises your risk for heat-related illness and hospitalization. So it’s especially important to try to follow basic strategies for staying cool, including these:
- Monitor weather forecasts for heat advisories and stay inside on those days. If your home is too hot, check with your town or city health department for cooling centers and other options to help you stay cool. If you venture outside, evening and early morning are often the coolest times. Rest in the shade whenever possible.
- When outside, try to drink 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes. Set a timer to remind you. “Never wait until you’re thirsty to drink,” says Dr. Bernstein. If you have heart failure, ask your doctor how much fluid you should drink daily, since fluids can build up and cause swelling. If you take diuretics, ask how much you should drink during hot weather.
- Avoid soda or fruit juice and limit alcohol. Soda and fruit juice may slow the passage of water from the digestive system to the bloodstream. While research is limited, some studies have found that excessive alcohol intake may raise risk for heat stroke during scorching weather.
- Protect your skin. Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool down and increases dehydration. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, wraparound sunglasses, and lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Also, apply plenty of broad-spectrum or UVA/UVB protection sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to all exposed skin 30 minutes before going out. Reapply every hour.
Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren
Suppose you find fifty righteous people living there in the city—will you still sweep it away and not spare it for their sakes? (Genesis 18:24) And the Lord replied, “If I find fifty righteous people in Sodom, I will spare the entire city for their sake.” (Genesis 18:26)
And be sure to say, ‘Look, your servant Jacob is right behind us.’” Jacob thought, “I will try to appease him by sending gifts ahead of me. When I see him in person, perhaps he will be friendly to me.” (Genesis 32:20)
to say to you: ‘Please forgive your brothers for the great wrong they did to you—for their sin in treating you so cruelly.’ So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive our sin.” When Joseph received the message, he broke down and wept. (Genesis 50:17)
“Forgive my sin, just this once, and plead with the Lord your God to take away this death from me.” (Exodus 10:17)
Pay close attention to him, and obey his instructions. Do not rebel against him, for he is my representative, and he will not forgive your rebellion. (Exodus 23:21)
Moses Intercedes for Israel The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a terrible sin, but I will go back up to the Lord on the mountain. Perhaps I will be able to obtain forgiveness for your sin.” (Exodus 32:30) So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a terrible sin these people have committed. They have made gods of gold for themselves. (Exodus 32:31) But now, if you will only forgive their sin—but if not, erase my name from the record you have written!” (Exodus 32:32)
The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out, “Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. (Exodus 34:6) I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected— even children in the third and fourth generations.” (Exodus 34:7)
And he said, “O Lord, if it is true that I have found favor with you, then please travel with us. Yes, this is a stubborn and rebellious people, but please forgive our iniquity and our sins. Claim us as your own special possession.” (Exodus 34:9)
just as he does with the bull offered as a sin offering for the high priest. Through this process, the priest will purify the people, making them right with the Lord, and they will be forgiven. (Leviticus 4:20) Then he must burn all the goat’s fat on the altar, just as he does with the peace offering. Through this process, the priest will purify the leader from his sin, making him right with the Lord, and he will be forgiven. (Leviticus 4:26)
Then he must remove all the goat’s fat, just as he does with the fat of the peace offering. He will burn the fat on the altar, and it will be a pleasing aroma to the Lord. Through this process, the priest will purify the people, making them right with the Lord, and they will be forgiven. (Leviticus 4:31) Then he must remove all the sheep’s fat, just as he does with the fat of a sheep presented as a peace offering. He will burn the fat on the altar on top of the special gifts presented to the Lord. Through this process, the priest will purify the people from their sin, making them right with the Lord, and they will be forgiven. (Leviticus 4:35)
The priest will then prepare the second bird as a burnt offering, following all the procedures that have been prescribed. Through this process the priest will purify you from your sin, making you right with the Lord, and you will be forgiven. (Leviticus 5:10) Through this process, the priest will purify those who are guilty of any of these sins, making them right with the Lord, and they will be forgiven. The rest of the flour will belong to the priest, just as with the grain offering.” (Leviticus 5:13)
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