Unrelenting heat can take its toll on your heart. Anyone with existing cardiovascular concerns should be aware that soaring temperatures can put your heart health at great risk.
Your body should never get too hot or too cold. Should you become overheated, the proteins that regulate bodily functions and chemical processes can fail. It’s paramount that your body is fully capable of dispelling extra heat – if not, the consequences to your health can be damning.
In the UAE, where temperatures routinely soar above forty degrees Celsius, the importance of keeping cool cannot be overstated. The consequences of not maintaining your body temperature at approximately thirty-seven degrees Celsius can be very serious.
How Your Body Dispels Heat
Your body dispels heat through radiation and evaporation. Like water flowing downhill, heat naturally moves from warmer to cooler areas – provided that the temperature of the area surrounding your body does not exceed your body temperature. This process is known as radiation.
However, if the temperature surrounding your body exceeds thirty-seven degrees Celsius (your body temperature) this process cannot be completed, with your body retaining a potentially dangerous temperature.
Every molecule of sweat that evaporates from your skin removes heat from your body. This process is known as evaporation. On a hot and dry day, the evaporation of a teaspoon of sweat can cool your entire bloodstream. However, should the humidity creep above 75%, the abundance of water vapor already in the air makes it very difficult for your body to evaporate heat.
Evaporation puts a strain on your cardiovascular system. As sweat dispels more and more heat from the body, it also removes sodium, potassium and additional minerals required for muscle contractions, nerve transmissions and water balance. This can put added strain on your heart.
As a muscle that pumps blood to each of our arteries, organs and tissues, efficient heart functionality is paramount to health. When temperatures rise, the heart is forced to beat faster and work harder to pump blood to the surface of your skin to help you sweat and cool your body down.
If your body cannot sufficiently cool itself, an unwanted strain is put on the heart. This can be fatal to anyone with a pre-existing heart condition. Even those without any pre-existing heart conditions can be severely affected by heat stroke. In advanced cases, people can develop cardiac arrhythmia due to heart exhaustion, hyper dynamic circulation and electrolytes disturbance.
Heat Stroke and Heart Issues in the UAE
In 2016, Dr. Lata Balakrishna, an internal medical specialist at Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi said that out of thirty patients seeking medical attention, five are suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stress. * It therefore stands to reason that heat stroke and heart health should be taken very seriously throughout the UAE.
The advice leading UAE doctors offer about maintaining a healthy heart in the heat is straightforward. Patients should avoid natural diuretics as sodium depletion can cause dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance. This is especially important for patients with pre-existing heart conditions, diabetes and chronic kidney disease.
It’s important to drink plenty of fluids in the heat to keep hydrated. This is especially important for patients with diabetes. Doctors also advise that anyone with flu-like symptoms should seek medical advice immediately.
Additional advice includes limiting prolonged exposure to the sun’s rays, wearing loose and light clothing to help the body maintain a healthy temperature, and limiting strenuous outdoor physical activity – especially in the height of the summer.
Taking care of your heart in high temperatures requires some considered thought. However, by acknowledging the dangers of over-exposure to the sun’s heat and taking appropriate action, everyone can enjoy the sun in small doses without endangering their health.
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