The brutal heat wave gripping much of the country this week is unpleasant for healthy folks. For people with cardiovascular trouble, hazy, hot, humid days can be downright dangerous.
Your body shouldn’t get too hot (or too cold). If your temperature rises too far, the proteins that build your body and run virtually all of its chemical processes can stop working. The human body sheds extra heat in two ways, both of which stress the heart:
Radiation. Like water flowing downhill, heat naturally moves from warm areas to cooler ones. As long as the air around you is cooler than your body, you radiate heat to the air. But this transfer stops when the air temperature approaches body temperature.
Radiation requires rerouting blood flow so more of it goes to the skin. This makes the heart beat faster and pump harder. On a hot day, it may circulate two to four times as much blood each minute as it does on a cool day.
Evaporation. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*