Does Heat Worsen Heart Disease in Phoenix? How to Stay Protected.
Phoenix is infamous for its heat. Even folks way out on the East coast know that Phoenix heat isn’t something to mess with. But did you know that such high levels of heat can increase heart disease risks for Phoenix residents?
When it’s hot outside, your body has to work harder to keep your core temperature at a normal level, which causes strain on your heart, lungs, and kidneys. These symptoms may increase a person’s risk for developing heart disease, the number one cause of death in the United States. Here’s how to beat the heat and protect heart health in Phoenix.
How Heat Affects Heart Disease Patients
Phoenix is a beautiful place to live, and it’s popular for retirees. Unfortunately, the summer heat is not a benefit of living there for heart disease patients. With temperatures that can hit 110 degrees in the summer, it’s important for heart disease patients to understand why being in the heat puts strain on their hearts.
When we are in the heat, our body cools off through radiation and evaporation. Radiation is when your body will radiate extra heat into the air when the air around you is cooler than your body. This requires the blood to reroute so that more goes to your skin and less remains in your heart. Now the heart has to work harder to pump the little blood it has left, putting excess strain on the organ.
Evaporation is when you sweat. Your body sweats to lower its temperature by pulling heat away from your skin. When the air is dry, this works well. But when it’s hot and humid, sweat sits on your skin as your body temperature rises. If the sweat stays on your skin, then your body continues to get warmer and causes the heart to beat faster and pump harder to help your body shed heat. Thankfully, in Phoenix, the air is very dry, so residents of Phoenix with heart disease will be affected less than people with heart disease living in a humid climate. Still, the intense heat is risky for heart disease patients in Phoenix.
Is Phoenix Heat Increasing My Heart Disease?
The heat can be hard for anyone to handle, but it’s much worse if you have heart disease. How do you know when the heat is too much for your body?
If you experience any of the following symptoms, your body is experiencing too much heat in Phoenix:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Disorientation or confusion
- Muscle twitches
If you experience any of these symptoms while in the heat, first get to an air-conditioned place and drink cool water. If symptoms don’t soon relieve, call your doctor or have someone take you to the emergency room.
Protect Yourself from Heat and Heart Disease in Phoenix
Harvard Health Publishing at Harvard Medical School gives us these simple steps to keeping yourself protected:
- Monitor the forecast for heat advisories and stay inside on those days. If your home is too hot then you can check your city health department to see where there are cooling centers or other options to stay cool. For example, you might pack up and commute to a local community center, gym, or shopping area. On the days that you do go outside, you should avoid the late morning and afternoon, the hottest parts of the day.
- When you go outside, drink 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes. If you have heart failure or take diuretics, you may need to drink more water. Be sure to consult with your doctor. Most of us forget to drink enough water, so consider investing in a fun water bottle. Many have measurement markings on the side to help you track how much water you’ve consumed throughout the day.
- Stick to drinking water and avoid drinking soda, fruit juice, and too much alcohol or caffeine. Soda and fruit juice can slow the water traveling from the digestive system and into the bloodstream. Alcohol and caffeine dehydrate the body, so make sure you drink enough water to properly hydrate your body.
- Protect your skin. Sunburn can affect your body’s ability to cool itself and increase dehydration. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, wraparound sunglasses, and light-colored and loose-fitting clothes. It is also important to include sunscreen that is broad-spectrum or has UVA/UVB protection.
Heart Disease is the Number One Killer in Arizona
According to a report conducted in 2019 by the Arizona Department of Health Services, heart disease is the number one killer in Arizona. They report that more than 50,000 hospitalizations and almost 10,000 deaths were related to heart diseases in the state. This means that Phoenix residents with heart disease need to be extremely aware of their bodies and follow their doctor’s advice. Aside from the concern that high blood pressure and heart disease have on their own, it can be exacerbated by the high temperatures in Phoenix. Heat and heart disease don’t mix, especially in Phoenix.
Offer On-Site Cardiovascular Tests with Vasolabs
Keep your Phoenix patients out of the heat by providing easily accessible, on-site cardiovascular tests. Providing on-site testing makes it easier for you to get their results back quickly, and easier for them because they only have to visit one doctor’s office for their exam and lab analysis. Learn more about our process and the cardiovascular tests we offer on our website.