Can Extreme Heat Cause a Heart Attack or Stroke?
With rising temperatures and extreme heatwaves becoming more common due to climate change, it is crucial to be aware of the potential health risks associated with high temperatures. While many people are familiar with heat-related illnesses such as heatstroke and dehydration, there is a lesser-known concern: the impact of heat on cardiovascular health. In this blog, we will explore the relationship between heat and heart health, and provide essential tips to stay safe during hot weather.
It’s not just heat stroke you have to worry about on extremely warm days. Experts say high heat can increase your risk for an actual stroke, as well as a heart attack and other cardiovascular issues. In fact, research suggests the number of deaths from cardiovascular disease (conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels) may double or triple when heat reaches extreme temperatures.
Soaring temperatures increase risks for heart attack and stroke.
1. Understanding the Link between Heat and Cardiovascular Health.
Research has shown that hot weather can significantly affect the cardiovascular system, particularly for individuals with pre-existing heart conditions. When exposed to high temperatures, our bodies work harder to regulate internal temperature through sweating. This process can put additional strain on the heart and blood vessels, leading to potentially severe consequences.
2. Increased Risk of Heart Attack.
Heat can increase the risk of heart attacks, especially for those with heart disease or other cardiac conditions. The heat places additional stress on the heart, causing an elevation in heart rate and blood pressure. Moreover, dehydration, which often accompanies heat exposure, can lead to thicker blood, making it more prone to clotting – a significant risk factor for heart attacks.
3. The Impact on Stroke Risk.
Similarly, hot weather has been associated with an increased risk of stroke. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can dilate blood vessels, affecting blood flow and potentially leading to the rupture of weakened vessels in the brain. Additionally, dehydration can reduce blood volume, making it more difficult for the heart to pump blood to vital organs, including the brain.
Also see: When to go to the ER for Dehydration
Tips to Stay Safe during Hot Weather.
- Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day, even if you don't feel thirsty. Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and caffeine, as they can contribute to dehydration.
- Limit Outdoor Activities: If possible, avoid outdoor activities during the hottest parts of the day, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you must be outside, seek shade and take frequent breaks in a cool, air-conditioned area.
- Dress Appropriately: Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, and light-colored clothing to help your body stay cool. Don't forget to protect yourself from the sun with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Use Air Conditioning: Spend time in air-conditioned places, such as shopping malls, libraries, or community centers, to cool down if you don't have air conditioning at home.
- Monitor Medications: If you have a heart condition, consult your healthcare provider about potential interactions between your medications and high temperatures. Some medications may affect how your body responds to heat.
- Check on Vulnerable Individuals: Keep an eye on elderly family members, friends, and neighbors, as they are more susceptible to heat-related health issues.
While heat-related heart attacks and strokes are relatively rare, they are preventable with proper awareness and precautions. As temperatures continue to rise due to climate change, understanding the impact of heat on cardiovascular health becomes more crucial than ever. By staying informed and following these simple tips, you can protect your heart and overall well-being during hot weather conditions. Stay safe, stay cool!
If you are suffering from heatstroke, dehydration or other heat related illness, please visit or call the Emergency Room nearby you for the immediate medical help. We have board-certified physicians, nurses and staff to help you recover and give appropriate advice.
We have ER locations across the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area that are open and here to help you 24/7 If you or your family have a medical emergency.
We have 9 facilities spread across the DFW area with average wait times of less than 10 mins that are OPEN 24/7 located in Hurst, Colleyville, Frisco, Highland Village, Hillcrest, Uptown, Little Elm, Mansfield, and Texoma.