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Extreme heat: what cardiac patients and seniors should pay attention to
The current summer temperatures do not bring joy to everyone. The heat is particularly demanding for patients with heart and blood pressure problems. In some cases, the drug dosage needs to be adjusted. In addition, not just this group of people should drink much more at the moment. Experts have even more heat tips for heart-sick and older people.
Heat demands a lot from patients with cardiovascular diseases
The current temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius can be a challenge especially for older people and those suffering from high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases. Possible consequences of the extreme heat are fatigue and dizziness, as well as a drop in blood pressure and even a circulatory collapse, as well as cardiac arrhythmias or muscle cramps. Vulnerable people should take urgent precautionary measures.
Adjusting the amount of drink and changing the drug dose
Health consequences, as described above, "can prevent those affected by discussing precautionary measures with their attending doctor, which may vary depending on the heart disease," explained the cardiac specialist Prof. Dr. med. Dietrich Andresen, CEO of the German Heart Foundation, in a message.
He cited the “adjustment of the drinking amount or necessary dosage changes for medication” as examples.
In a contribution, the Heart Foundation summarized important recommendations for heart patients on how to deal with the summer heat.
Light clothing and cooler surroundings
The blood absorbs the excessive heat from the body and transports it to the small skin vessels, which, like “cooling coils”, dissipate the heat to the air.
The larger the area of the uncovered skin, the cooler and drier the air flowing past, and above all the more blood that is pumped from the heart through the skin vessels, the more heat the body can give off.
A healthy heart can easily cope with this additional burden. A sick heart, on the other hand, quickly reaches its limits.
"Older people and especially patients with a weak heart should avoid the greatest possible heat, be physically gentle and take special care to dress in summer," recommends Prof. Andresen.
Additional fluid loss when taking certain medications
The body also gives off heat through sweat, but loses liquid and electrolytes (salts: sodium, potassium, magnesium): in very hot weather, one to two liters of liquid per day.
Drinking is therefore so important to compensate for this loss of fluid and salt.
“When you are thirsty, healthy people automatically drink as much as they need to balance. But in older or heart-sick people the thirst feeling cannot be intact, so that they do not drink enough and the loss of fluid is not compensated for, ”warns Prof. Andresen.
"If, in such a situation, an additional intake of water-propelling medication (diuretics) leads to a greater loss of fluid, the blood volume in the vessels decreases: blood pressure drops and, especially when you get up from a lying or sitting position, circulatory collapse with brief loss of consciousness can occur. "
Danger due to excessive hydration
Since the sweat-out salts are also not adequately balanced, there are further complaints such as headaches, general fatigue, but also muscle cramps and sometimes cardiac arrhythmias.
Older people and patients with heart failure must therefore be stopped on hot days to drink enough, in addition one to two liters a day.
All other people should also increase the daily drinking amount in view of the current heat wave. An expert from the German Red Cross (DRK) said that at least one liter of water should be consumed every day.
According to Prof. Andresen, people with heart problems should not drink too much either, as excessive hydration can lead to a deterioration in their cardiac output.
“For this reason, patients with heart problems should coordinate the amount they drink and the medication they take with their doctor in charge. Weighing daily helps to determine the amount of drinking required, ”says the expert.
Daily weighing to control the amount of drinking
As explained in the Heart Foundation's announcement, cardiac patients, especially those with heart failure, should weigh themselves in the morning before breakfast and after the first visit to the toilet.
In general, regular weighing in the morning is sufficient to check the fluid balance. The liquid balance can be roughly estimated over the day by additional weighing in the evening.
If the body weight has increased by more than a pound despite the hydration, the drinking amount is too high.
Anyone who has lost weight as a heart failure patient despite hydration should - only in consultation with the doctor - reduce the dosage of the drainage agent. (ad)