This week, we have had a record-breaking heat wave throughout California. If you live in Arizona or Nevada, you are probably used to this but we most certainly are not! I have personally found that when I go out in the heat, I experience chest pain. Heat should dilate blood vessels so one would think that heat would make things better. Not so.
Part of the problem is that the typical medications given to heart patients such as beta blockers and ace inhibitors can intensify the body's reaction to heat. This means you are MORE likely to suffer from heat exhaustion or sun stroke than someone who is not on these meds.
Also, your body gets rid of heat in two ways - by sweating and rerouting blood so that more of it goes to the skin. Both processes put more strain on your heart. Sweating also causes the loss of key minerals such as sodium and potassium that are crucial for muscle contractions, nerve transmissions and water balance in the body. Adding insult to injury are the stress hormones produced in the body on a hot day.
If you have heart disease, make sure you stay indoors in air conditioning if at all possible. If you must be out and about - drink lots of water (and those of us over 50 don't always experience thirst when we are dehydrated, this problem worsens if you have diabetes). Get minerals from either supplements or electrolyte rich drinks such as Gatorade (or healthier versions such as Isagenix Hydrate). Wear light clothing too, I am always amazed when I see people wearing black t-shirts on a hot day. Eating light meals also reduces the amount of work the body (and heart) has to do.
Another great trick is to keep some body sprays in the refrigerator, and spray them when you are warm. They are alcohol based and cool you down quickly.
Stay cool, and stay safe!