Virtual Imaging: Early Detection Saves Lives. Imagery of two elderly couples jogging outside and smiling.

How to Keep Your Heart Happy in Summertime Heat

The organs of your body work at their best when your internal temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Extremely high or extremely low body temperatures can damage your organs or cause them to shut down. Very low temperatures may cause frostbite or hypothermia, for example, while high temperatures can cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Prolonged exposure to either very high or very low external temperatures can cause your heart, nervous system, and other organs to fail.

When external temperatures start to soar, your body takes action to keep your internal temperature under control. You perspire, for example, and evaporation of perspiration from your skin lowers your body temperature. Prolonged exposure to heat can lead to dehydration as your body uses up all the available fluid to create sweat.

Your heart plays a role in keeping your body cool. When temperatures go up, veins lying close to the surface of your skin expand and dilate so that the veins can accommodate more blood. This blood carries heat with it; cooler air at the surface of the skin cools the blood inside your surface veins. Your veins then carry this cooler blood to internal organs.

Everyone is at risk for dangerous effects from high heat, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke, but the risks are even higher for those with heart problems or high blood pressure. Your heart has to work harder to cool your body when environmental temperatures exceed 70 degrees Fahrenheit and when humidity is 70 percent or higher. This extra work by your heart puts you at greater risk for heat-related illness.

Fortunately, you can keep your heart healthy in summertime heat by taking a few simple precautions.

Ways to Keep Your Heart Safe during the Heat of Summer

Stay hydrated by drinking water before, during, and after physical activity.

Avoid outdoor activities during the heat of the day, which normally occurs between noon and 3 p.m. Instead, schedule indoor activities in air-conditioned facilities during the early afternoon.

Stay in air conditioning whenever possible and protect yourself from the sun when you have to be outside. Sit in the shade or wear a wide-brimmed hat that protects your face and shoulders from the sun.

Wear lightweight, breathable clothing. Choose clothing made from light-colored material, as light colors reflect the sun’s rays, while dark colors absorb the hot summer sun.

Stay cool this summer, and keep your heart safe. For more ideas on summer safety, contact a Virtual Imaging doctor today at 770-730-0119!