Underlining that extremely hot and humid weather can trigger cardiovascular disease, blood pressure imbalance and heart failure, Cardiology Specialist Prof. Dr. Hakan Uçar, “One of the most important mechanisms that keeps the body temperature constant is the blood circulation of the skin.
The veins that feed the skin try to reduce or increase the heat loss in the body by contracting in the cold and expanding in the heat. This requires the heart to work harder. In patients with heart failure, directing blood flow predominantly to the skin may lead to a decrease in blood flow to vital organs.
Pointing out that the increase in air temperatures poses some risks, especially for heart patients, Prof. Dr. Hakan Uçar said:
“Heart attacks increase in extremely hot weather. The most important reason for this is the increase in blood coagulation rate in response to salt and electrolyte loss. On extremely hot and humid days, the number of people who have a heart attack or die from cardiovascular disease increases. Observational studies conducted during the years of extreme heat waves have shown that especially the elderly and patients with co-morbidities are more affected. In order to prevent a possible heart attack, it is very important for people with heart disease to protect themselves from the harmful effects of the sun by drinking plenty of fluids and paying attention to electrolyte loss.
Uçar, who warns that heart failure can be triggered if the body’s fluid needs are not balanced, said, “The most effective method the body takes against heat is sweating. As the water evaporates from the moist skin, the skin begins to cool. Naturally, in this case, salts and minerals called fluids and electrolytes are lost. The decrease in the volume of fluid circulating in the veins causes a decrease in the fluidity of the blood and the amount of blood passing through the kidneys. This may lead to impaired kidney function if not enough fluid is taken. In order to balance this, substances secreted from the kidneys and adrenal glands may cause the vessels to constrict and increase the signs of heart failure with sudden increases in blood pressure.
Uçar stated that hypertension patients should definitely go to their doctors before they enter the summer and go on vacation, and their medications should be arranged according to the summer, and made the following suggestions:
“It is very important for patients with hypertension and those taking diuretics to drink enough fluids. Otherwise, sudden drops in blood pressure and deterioration in kidney functions may occur. As vascular dilation increases in heat, the edematous effect of some blood pressure medications on the legs increases. In such cases, salt intake should be restricted a little more. Since hypertension is a disease that does not cause any complaints, most patients are not aware of changes in blood pressure.
It is useful to monitor the changes in blood pressure more closely, especially during seasonal changes. Therefore, patients with high blood pressure should consult their doctor to avoid any problems during the summer months. Thus, the drug use of these patients can be rearranged for the summer period, if deemed necessary by their physicians.
Stating that it is possible to reduce the risk of heart attack with some simple measures that can be taken in the summer, Prof. Dr. Hakan Uçar listed his suggestions as follows:
“Try to be in cool and shady places as much as possible during the summer months. Choose light-colored, comfortable and loose clothing made of fabric that does not increase perspiration. Do not go out in the midday sun or when the sun is high. Avoid heavy, oily meals, and try to eat a diet rich in vegetables and fruits at small and frequent intervals. Never drink alcohol outdoors under the sun, especially during the hours when the sun’s rays are steep. During the summer months, the daily fluid requirement increases, so take care to consume 2-2.5 liters of water per day in the summer.
Be careful with the consumption of turnip, licorice root juice, soda and mineral water. Uncontrolled consumption of these can increase blood pressure and trigger signs of heart failure. Enter the sea on an empty stomach in the morning and evening hours, do not sunbathe on the sand, swim in the sea parallel to the shore.”