Understanding the impact of high temperatures on your blood pressure
Whether it’s sunny days at home or your much-awaited summer holiday abroad, the sunshine is making an appearance and things are warming up. But what effect does the heat have on your heart health?
In many people, a bit of warmer weather can help to lower blood pressure levels due to the increased vitamin D intake and widening of the blood vessels creating more space for the blood to flow. However, for those suffering from hypertension or heart conditions, warm weather can put additional strain on the heart. This is because in hot weather our heart and body work harder to cool down in the following ways:
- Releasing heat. Our body naturally releases heat to cool itself by rerouting blood flow so more of it goes to the skin. This process requires the heart to beat faster and pump harder, putting more pressure on the arteries which can lead to an increase in blood pressure.
- Evaporation. As humidity increases, evaporation becomes much harder, putting additional strain on the cardiovascular system to dispel our body heat through sweat. What’s more, sweat can reduce the levels of potassium and magnesium in the body, which both help to lower blood pressure. This decrease in certain minerals combined with the additional pressure on heart to pump blood to the skin can cause problems for those with heart trouble.
Listening to your body
So what can people do to be aware of these risks in the summer months and to lower their blood pressure? Firstly, it’s all about awareness and listening to your body. The best way to monitor the effects temperature change is having on your heart health is to use a blood pressure monitor. Every person’s heart and body reacts differently to different environmental factors, so monitoring will allow you to identify triggers and take steps to lower your blood pressure if you need to.
If you notice that the heat is having a negative impact on your blood pressure, here are some steps you can take to stay cool.
There are several easy and quick steps to keep your body cool in the day, from dressing appropriately to avoiding the midday sun. At night time, think about simple steps such as turning off the gadgets around the house as each one gives off heat that can raise the room temperature.
However, when it comes to lowering your blood pressure in the heat, the most important factor is keeping your fluid and electrolyte levels balanced. Even the slightest irregularity in your electrolyte balance, for example too much sodium or not enough potassium, can contribute to heart weakness or irregularity. Electrolytes are crucial for the human body to thrive by regulating nerve and muscle function, hydration, balancing blood acidity and blood pressure and helping to rebuild damaged tissue.
When we become dehydrated the level of electrolytes decreases, which can lead to muscle weakness. This muscle weakness can have an impact on our overall health affecting blood pressure and potentially causing an irregular heartbeat. Therefore, it is important not just to wait until you’re thirsty to drink but instead to pre-empt your body’s need for hydration, keeping your fluid intake balanced throughout the day.
Natural coconut water contains five key electrolytes so why not mix up your water intake with a refreshing glass of coconut water? And an added bonus is that it smells and tastes delicious!
So whether you’re jetting off this summer or spending days in the sun at home – remember to consider what’s going on beneath your skin’s surface, as well as plastering on the sun cream. By monitoring your heart’s response to heat and adjusting your decisions accordingly, you can ensure you stay healthy inside and out.