HomeCHD & heart attackTips for a cool heart in summer

Tips for a cool heart in summer

It's summer, the sun is shining and temperatures climb to over 25 °C. For many people, that sounds like paradise! For heart patients in particular, however, summer heat often puts a particularly high strain on the body. With the following tips, you can enjoy the summer better and prepare yourself and your heart for the warm season. Let's go!


At a glance

High temperatures can cause a drop in blood pressure and may lead to concentration problems, muscle cramps and cardiac arrhythmias. It is therefore best to measure your blood pressure several times a day to detect any deviations.

The right amount to drink and a stable blood pressure are especially important during hot spells! Discuss your blood pressure values, your medication settings and your recommended drinking quantity with your doctor. Ideally before the start of a heat period. Together you will adjust your therapy and be better prepared for the warm days.

You can make it through the summer relaxed, with enough breaks and the following 6 steps in your morning routine:

  1. Make it easy to drink enough fluids during the day
  2. Wear airy and protective clothing
  3. Put on sunscreen (e.g. with sun protection factor 50+)
  4. Decorate and protect yourself with headgear
  5. Schedule exercise sessions for cooler times of day or in air-conditioned sports facilities
  6. Measure your blood pressure regularly (e.g. in the morning and in the evening)

Studies show: Heat increases the risk of heart disease

When the temperature rises, the number of patients with heart disease, heart attack or stroke also increases. A study conducted in Canada was able to show: at even moderately increased temperatures, 6 % more heart diseases occur than at lower temperatures! In particular, long and intense periods of heat have a negative effect on the course of heart disease.

This means that even in mild heat, it is important to protect yourself from increased temperatures in case of heart problems or after a heart attack. With the tips from this article, you can prepare well for periods of heat. 

How does heat affect my heart?

In summer, the temperatures rise. The sun gives its best, not a cloud or a lukewarm breeze in sight - it's hot and we start to sweat. Up to 1.5 liters of sweat per hour. When our body heats up, it normally transports the heat back to the outside via the circulatory system and the skin in the form of sweat. Therefore, the blood vessels dilate to promote blood circulation and to be able to release heat better. This is how our body cools down.

People with heart failure often have reduced cardiac output and low blood pressure. If high temperatures now occur, the additional dilatation of the blood vessels can cause blood pressure values that are too low. This leads to states of exhaustion, concentration disorders, muscle cramps and, in rare cases, even cardiac arrhythmias.

There are a few things you can do to prevent this. You will learn more about this in the next sections!

You should discuss this with your doctor

Whether you're on vacation or home for the summer, are you in for a heat wave? Then now is exactly the right time to arm yourself against the heat and discuss the following things with your doctor:

Your blood pressure and antihypertensive medications

The dilatation of blood vessels in summer temperatures causes our blood pressure to drop. Therefore, measure your blood pressure regularly, especially on hot days. It is best to do this twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. This way you can detect possible changes in your blood pressure yourself, e.g. blood pressure that is too low. 

During prolonged periods of heat, the amount of antihypertensive medication (e.g., ACE inhibitors, sartans, calcium antagonists) should be temporarily adjusted in some patients. This prevents an extreme drop in blood pressure.

Address changes in your blood pressure at your doctor's visit. Your doctor can support you to get through the warm period safely, e.g. through medication adjustments.

Your fluid intake

Do you also suffer from heart failure and take dehydrating medication (e.g. diuretics)? Then your body is already dehydrated without the prevailing heat. This can cause your blood pressure to drop further in addition to the loss of fluid due to increased sweating. This can increase the risk of dizziness or even a circulatory collapse with possible unconsciousness. But especially for those affected by heart failure, it can also be too much fluid! Then the heart no longer manages to pump the increased blood volume through the body. This causes water to accumulate in the legs, for example. Therefore, make sure that you drink enough - but not too much! 

Therefore, especially for patients with cardiac insufficiency: In addition to adjusting your medication, also discuss the daily drinking amount suitable for you with your doctor!

6 simple steps for your morning routine to get you through summer well

Take it into your own hands, too! A summer morning routine sets the stage for a relaxed day and gives you the satisfying feeling of being ready for (almost) anything the day has to offer. Here's how to keep the heat from going to your head!

Here's how:

Step 1: Drink water and stay hydrated

Drink enough water or unsweetened teas (at least 1.5-2 L). Fill yourself with the sufficient drinking quantity in clean bottles in the morning, e.g. right after breakfast. The motto: The bottles must be completely empty in the evening! This way you can be sure that you drink enough during the day. A real refreshment is, for example, a homemade iced tea without sugar or water with berries and mint (you can find a simple recipe for this in the article "4 heart healthy recipes for summer"). 

Extra Tip: Even if we feel like iced drinks in sweltering temperatures: lukewarm drinks cool better than ice-cold ones! Why? The body must first warm up cold liquid before it enters the bloodstream. This work makes us warmer and we sweat more. This means that some of the liquid is lost again immediately.

Attention: If you are affected by heart failure, please discuss the amount of drinking that is suitable for you with your doctor. 

Step 2: Go for airy clothes

Clothing that is too thick or tight prevents the body from cooling down effectively. Therefore, the airier the better! 

Especially on parts of the body where the skin touches, the heat accumulates. Therefore, try to give your armpits in particular plenty of air to breathe! Loose, loose clothing is recommended, e.g. comfortable shorts, a loose linen top or a loose dress.

Step 3: Apply lotion, because you still get a tan

The sun has a lot of power and our sensitive skin, especially on the face, is often unprotected. But fortunately there is sunscreen against this! Therefore, it is best to use a sunscreen with SPF 50+ on your face every morning. Before you go out in the sun with your body, treat the rest of your body to sun protection as well. By the way, the myth that you can't get a tan with sunscreen is outdated! You tan more gently and the healthy complexion lasts longer.

Extra Tip: Why not link the application of sunscreen directly to brushing your teeth? If the tube of sunscreen is right next to your toothbrush, you'll automatically think of it.

Step 4: Hat, cap, scarf - protective fashion for your head.

Have you ever felt really tired and floppy after a long day at the swimming lake or after a sunny hike? This often comes from the fact that we tend not to protect our head sufficiently. Yet headwear can be much more than just fashion accessories! Protect yourself from sunstroke and wear hats or caps, especially during lunchtime. 

Extra Tip: Do you tend to forget your hat or cap? Then pack an extra headgear in your bag or car. That way you always have head protection with you when you go out.

Step 5: Sports activities in the morning or late at night 

Regular exercise promotes our heart health (read more in the article "How should I exercise with heart disease or after a heart attack?"). In the midday sun, however, exercise can quickly lead to overheating. Therefore, when temperatures are high, schedule your exercise sessions for the cooler morning before breakfast. Alternatively, you could switch to the milder evening hours or exercise in air-conditioned sports facilities.

Step 6: Keep an eye on your blood pressure

Your blood pressure can fluctuate quite a bit in high temperatures. You can detect these fluctuations yourself if you measure your blood pressure regularly. For example, measure it first thing in the morning when you get up and again in the evening before you go to bed. 

Extra Tip: Put your blood pressure monitor in a place that you always see in the morning and evening. This will automatically remind you to measure. How about on the nightstand or in the bathroom, for example?

Extra tip: Do it like the southerners do

The world spins a little slower in the south, so make the most of it! Many people in southern countries take a break at the hottest time of the day - the so-called siesta. Treat yourself to your own siesta and take a midday nap. This will help you escape the sun's hot rays and start the (cooler) rest of the day fresh and refreshed! It's totally okay, and even very important, to take more breaks when temperatures are high. Preferably in a shady spot.

Generally speaking, in the summer, being prepared is half the battle, and being mindful of your own needs is the other half. Prepare for summer temperatures with your doctor and the 6 steps in the morning. Summer will be good!

Do you want to keep track of your medications and symptoms? Then take a look at the medication and health coach in the Vantis app!

Extra tip: The medication and health coach

If in doubt, especially if you are a heart patient or at increased risk of heart attack or other heart disease, always consult your physician. If you suspect a heart attack, contact the emergency number 112 immediately.

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