Heat Waves and Heart Disease: What to do?

SYoung Health Guide
  • I know everyone out there is hot because this heat wave is hitting just about every part of the country right now.  How are people with heart disease to cope?  Related to this, how should people with heart disease and high cholesterol exercise when it is so incredibly hot and very unhealthy outdoors?  Should we be eating differently in this weather?


    First, I do urge everyone to find a different way to work out and burn calories and fat until the heat index is back to a more moderate range.  We shouldn't stop working out and exercising, but just need to be smarter and a bit more creative.  This morning I was not so smart or creative.  I was outside under my deck tending to some home repairs.  These repairs were light and easy and not terribly taxing.  I was working for no more than thirty minutes when I suddenly felt dizzy and weak, and then my pulse rate increased exponentially.  I immediately went indoors and rehydrated.  Even man's best friend can't take this heat.  My dog has even overheated with just a quick stroll around the block.  Clearly running or jogging is out of the question. 

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    I am only human.  I sometimes forget that I have high cholesterol which means that my critical vessels and arteries do indeed have plaque on them and some may even be partially occluded.  So, my heart and lungs have to work much harder to deliver critical oxygen filled blood to my body.  Each one of us should remember this before we head outside to do anything and follow the old rules of plenty of fluids, staying out of the direct sunlight, and getting back indoors as quickly as possible.  I am not one to urge folks not to exercise, but in this heat don't push yourself and listen to your body and your common sense. 


    If you can't take the heat like me and like to run, take to the air conditioned mall and do a race walk.  I headed to my local indoor shopping mall where walking from one end to the other is one full mile.  I race walk from end to end at least twice.  I have also been taking advantage of my gym at work, again air conditioned. 


    With respect to diet for the heat wave, stick to lighter foods that are easier for your system to digest.  Barbecue and fried chicken should not be on the menu, because they take extra processing time which drives up your heart rate and your body temperature.  I have been trying to eat lighter meals which include more fish and vegetables and fresh fruit-all of which is easier to digest and thus less taxing on my body and circulatory system than big, heavy meals.  I have found that doing this keeps my energy levels up and my body cooler.


    Stay healthy and stay smart in this heat.  Talk to everyone next week.

Published On: July 24, 2011