April 19, 2024


Health know-how

Healthy Tahoe: Beat summertime heat for your heart

Summertime living is easy — but for your heart, and with Tahoe daytime temperatures nearing 100 degrees lately, the warmest season of the year can be a challenge.

David Young, MD

Dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke can be a concern for people with heart trouble — especially heart failure. That’s because your heart may have difficulty pumping blood to your skin, where heat is released. Sweating helps you cool off, but your medication may make it harder to sweat, too.

As the thermometer remains high, keep these tips in mind for heart-healthy living this summer.

Hydrate with healthy drinks. While a cold soda sounds refreshing when the sun is shining, soda can be dehydrating. Consider healthier options such as lemon water, unsweetened iced tea, fruit smoothies, and non-alcoholic versions of your favorite drinks.

Sweat it out. It only takes 30 minutes a day to lower your blood pressure. With the long days, plan outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, tennis, or golf for early morning or late evening. When the heat is unbearable, opt for indoor activities like the treadmill, spin bike or yoga.

Refresh your diet with produce. Many fruits and vegetables —from bell peppers and blueberries to strawberries and sugar snap peas — are in season during the summer, meaning they’re often more fresh and affordable than at other times of year. They can also leave you feeling light and refreshed when the days are hot. Visit your grocery store or a local farmers market and incorporate these healthy foods into summer recipes.

Keep your cool. High levels of stress can lead to temporary but dramatic increases in blood pressure. Traffic delays, overcrowded beaches and long lines often trigger stress. Find ways to manage stress with meditation or laughter with friends and family. Keep your body cool by showering, bathing or sponging yourself off with cool water when you are feeling overly hot. Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothes to reflect heat and opt for a hat to reduce sun exposure.

If you have a history of heart problems, be sure to check with your health care provider about what you can do to beat the heat this summer.

Dr. David Young is a board-certified cardiologist and founder of Barton Cardiology. He is committed to strengthening the hearts of our community by offering prevention, diagnosis, intervention or referral, and rehabilitation in South Lake Tahoe. To learn more, visit BartonHealth.org/Cardiology.