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Can Your Heart Handle the Heat?

When temperatures rise, your heart has to work harder to keep you cool. If your body doesn't effectively cool down, you risk heat exhaustion or heat stroke, a very serious condition. Although anyone can experience heat exhaustion or suffer from heat stroke, people with cardiovascular disease are at greater risk.

To learn more about how your heart health can affect your body's ability to tolerate summer heat, take this quiz to test your knowledge.

  1. If you have heart disease, it's harder for your body to cool down.
    • True
      People with weakened hearts may not respond to the heat as well as people with healthy hearts. Narrowed arteries can limit blood flow to the skin and a damaged heart may not pump enough blood to effectively transfer heat from your body. When it's hot outside, your heart may need to circulate 2 - 4 times as much blood a minute as it does on a cool day.
  2. Some heart medications can affect how your body responds to the heat.
    • True
      Medications such as beta blockers, ace receptor inhibitors, calcium channel blockers and diuretics may make your body more sensitive to heat. Some lower your hydration level or slow your heart rate, which reduces how quickly your heart can circulate blood. If you take these medications, have a heart condition, are overweight or are over age 50, you may need to take special precautions when temps soar.
  3. If you feel dizzy when it's hot outside, it may be due to your heart.
    • True
      Your heart has to increase the amount of blood flowing to your skin when it's hot to keep your body cooler. Additionally, you lose sodium and potassium in addition to water when you sweat. This combination may lower your blood pressure quickly which can cause dizziness.
  4. As long as your skin feels cool and moist, you don't have to worry about the heat.
    • False
      Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are greater risks for people with heart disease. One sign of heat exhaustion is cool, moist skin. Others include headaches, light-headedness, weakness, nausea, vomiting and dark urine. If you notice any of these symptoms while you're exercising or spending time outside on a hot day, stop what you're doing and move to a cooler place. Drink water and use cool compresses to cool down your body.

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Date Last Reviewed: May 17, 2019
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD
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