While the warmth of the summer season can be inviting for outdoor activity, too much exposure to extreme heat can have a negative effect on people diagnosed with diabetes or heart disease. As a result, it’s important that everyone, but especially people with a known condition, be extremely cautious when venturing into the heat for any extended period of time.
Here are a few ways the heat can get the best of you if you’re not careful:
When Heat Impacts Diabetics
Extreme heat affects how the body regulates blood sugar levels. Though this can be mitigated by hydrating well and diet, heat can cause you to sweat and - as a result - increase your glucose levels. This increase in glucose will also facilitate urination, further dehydrating you and increasing your glucose to higher levels. Therefore, it is very important that you stay as hydrated as possible whenever you’re exposed to hot weather.
If you happen to take insulin, you should know that temperatures in excess of 95 degrees F can compromise your medication’s effectiveness. If you know you’ll be active in the heat, your blood sugar will likely fluctuate more than usual.
You should be more vigilant about testing your blood sugar levels in the heat so you can maintain stability when necessary. The heat will put more pressure on your body, so stay as prepared as possible.
When Heat Contributes to Heart Disease Risk
At around 70 degrees F and higher, the heart will actually work harder to keep your body cool. At more extreme temperatures in excess of 95 degrees F, this is all the more true and can put tremendous stress on the heart, especially for people with a heart disease diagnosis. On a particularly hot day, your heart can pump more than twice the amount of blood per minute as it otherwise would in cooler temperatures.
For people with heart disease, this can be problematic since the heart might not be able to pump enough blood to regulate heat properly. Your body will also lose potassium and sodium from sweat, causing even more stress to your cardiovascular system.
For those with a known heart condition (or generally), it’s advisable to avoid exercising in the extreme heat of the day. Air conditioning, of course, is your friend, as is water. Avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol as these beverages can dehydrate you.
Stay Aware of Your Heart Health
Beating the heat is never easy, especially as it relates to your cardiovascular health. Knowing how healthy your heart is at any given time can give you a better indication of how to approach the summer months and what level of heat and/or activity you can tolerate at a given time.
To learn more about heart disease or to schedule a heart scan and learn the state of your health, reach out to us today at (918) 879-6161.