What you should know about heart and heat medications

TOAccording to weather forecasts, global warming may further increase the intensity of the heat wave in the US this summer, with major cities including New York, Boston and Chicago burning the most. And since we’re already seeing temperatures in the 90s along with heat-related dehydration, medical experts caution against heart and heat medications: a study published in the Nature Journal of Cardiovascular Research found that people taking certain heart medications were more susceptible to heat-related heart attacks.

While the risk of heart attack is 63 percent higher for people taking antiplatelet drugs, beta-blockers can cause a 65 percent higher risk, with people taking both drugs having the greatest increased risk at 75 percent. percent, according to the study. Beta blockers and antiplatelet drugs are some of the most commonly prescribed medications for people at risk for conditions such as high blood pressure (hypertension), chest pain (angina), and cardiovascular disease.

In fact, Wafin Momin, MD, a board-certified cardiovascular disease specialist and assistant professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center (UT Health) in Houston, says heat-related hospitalizations are always something. to worry about in the summer months.

Heart Medications and Heat: Here’s What to Watch Out For

“Blood pressure medications, such as beta-blockers and diuretics, can make people more vulnerable (to hot weather), while beta-blockers reduce heart activity, diuretics primarily remove fluid from your body says Dr. Momin. “And if you’re taking any of these, your risk of developing low blood pressure and becoming further dehydrated is high, since you’ll also lose enormous amounts of fluid through sweating.”

Some heart medications, such as calcium channel blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), which remove sodium from the body, can also intensify heart form. in which the body reacts to heat, causing feelings of discomfort in conditions of extreme heat. according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

According to Richard Becker, MD, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine in Ohio, antihypertensive medications can negatively affect fluid retention and blood pressure when ambient temperatures are high. “And to add to the list: diuretics, including furosemide or torsemide, and vasodilators such as lisinopril or entresto are the most common examples,” he says.

Why do high temperatures affect our heart and our blood pressure in particular?

In high temperatures and humidity, the heart pumps twice as much blood per minute as it does on a normal day, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“Hot weather increases your body temperature, forcing your heart to pump harder and faster to send more blood to your skin as a way to radiate heat and regulate body temperature,” says Dr. Momin. “Simply put: your heart is working harder to stay cooler during the summer. If you’re exposed to such high temperatures for an extended period of time, your body can lose significant amounts of fluid in the form of sweat, causing low blood pressure and dehydration. “

The best ways to stay safe in the heat if you are taking one of these medications

First things first, Dr. Momin wants to remind you that it is completely safe to follow your doctor’s instructions for your heart medications. “He shouldn’t stop or change any of his medications without first talking to his doctor,” adds Dr. Becker.

Considering that temperatures above 70 degrees and humidity above 70 percent have the highest risks, Dr. Momin advises people to take one of these medications to avoid the hottest parts of the day. If you must go out during the summer, choose the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening, adds Dr. Momin. “It’s very important to take several breaks if you have to be away for extended periods and to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day,” he says.

According to Dr. Becker, you should avoid physical activity during the heat of the day and only engage in short bouts of activity during the morning hours. “Alternate between water and fluids that contain electrolytes during your activity. And for clothing, wear light colors, fabrics that don’t trap heat, loose-fitting clothing, and cooling hats,” he says.

Some signs of overheating to watch out for

Both Dr. Momin and Dr. Becker recommend watching for signs of overheating, such as excessive sweating, fatigue, dizziness, muscle cramps, racing heartbeat, headache, fainting, and nausea.

If you experience any of these symptoms, the following AHA guidelines can help keep you safe:

  • drink an adequate amount of water
  • move to a cooler place
  • stop exercising and freshen up immediately
  • rehydrate by spraying with cold water
  • seek medical attention if symptoms are severe

“As a general rule of thumb, be smart, don’t miss a beat, but avoid the heat,” says Dr. Becker.

Finally, remember that the health of your heart plays an important role in your overall well-being. Plus, you can have a great summer while taking your heart medications, protecting yourself against a heat wave, and seeking urgent medical attention if the heat is taking a toll on your health.

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