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It's getting hot - coping with the heat when you have a heart condition

Wow! It's hot in here. It's hot on the train, it's hot inside, it's hot outside... It seems like we've been waiting for this moment for MONTHS and now... it's TOO HOT!

Just joking, I know it will only last a few days so I shouldn't complain.

Here's an article from the front of the Aussie news making fun of our 'hottest day':

This week is all about keeping your cool in the hot weather. This is especially important if you have any health condition, especially high blood pressure, angina or heart failure.

Let me know how the heat affects you and if you have any specific questions about your exercise regime when it's hot.



Keeping your cool during summer

When the weather is hot you sweat to cool down, but this means that you lose more fluid than usual from your body. This can drop your blood pressure and make your heart beat faster. This is not a problem for most people as long as they drink plenty of fluids, like water or other sugar-free drinks to keep from getting dehydrated.

However, if you have a heart or health condition, extreme heat may place an extra burden on your heart and circulation, so it’s particularly important to stay cool and look after yourself. 

What can you do to keep cool?

  • Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water or other sugar-free drinks (Though if you've been told to restrict your fluid intake for medical reasons you should speak to your GP)  
  • Avoid drinking too many alcoholic or caffeinated drinks.  Caffeine-based and alcoholic drinks can cause you to lose more fluid from your body.
  • Eat cold foods, particularly salads and fruit with a high water content.
  • Make sure your home is cool when you're staying indoors. Close curtains during the day to keep the heat out and then open when the sun sets to let cool air in. Use a fan with a wet cloth draped over to cool the room down.
  • Wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes.
  • Stay out of the heat in the hottest part of the day between 11am and 3pm.
  • If you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat
  • Avoid extreme physical exertion. Perform any exercise sessions at the coolest part of the day or in an air conditioned room.



Hot weather and heart conditions


If you have coronary heart disease, you may find you start to experience angina or your angina worsens during hot weather, because hot weather increases the workload on your heart and the demand for oxygen, especially when you are more active. 

Heart failure

It’s particularly important to stay cool if you have heart failure - where your heart doesn't pump as well as it should. If you’ve been told to restrict your fluid intake, speak to your GP about other ways to keep cool during summer.  If you take water tablets and start to feel dizzy or light headed let your doctor know. Your dose can then be reduced or stopped for a little while, if needed, until you feel better.

Heat stroke

Losing too much body fluid can increase your internal body temperature, which could be life-threatening if left untreated. 

Symptoms of heat stroke include sweating, cold clammy skin, dizziness, fainting, muscle cramps, heat rash, oedema (swelling) in the ankles, shallow or fast breathing, nausea and vomiting. 

If you suspect that you or someone else has heat stroke, get medical attention immediately.

Who is most at risk?

Elderly people and very young children have more difficulty in regulating their temperature and so can be more at risk from extreme temperatures. In hot weather, check on your friends and relatives regularly to make sure they are cool and comfortable.

Let me know if you have any questions at all!

Stay cool and have a great week!


Sunshine, strawberries and do's and don'ts of exercise

Good afternoon and Happy Wednesday! What a weekend - I hope you had a good one and enjoyed watching Murray win Wimbledon again! What a great match and a great pick me up for the country.

Speaking of Wimbledon, this week's food of the week is the strawberry. We are now in strawberry season, which means that summer feeling is finally here.  As the season goes on, the strawberries get better and sweeter.  Check out to see what other fruit and vegetables are in season at the moment.

Strawberries have been eaten since Roman times, when they were also used medicinally to help with digestive ailments, discoloured teeth and skin irritations. Strawberries are considered to be one of the healthiest fruits. They are packed with antioxidants, can help to lower blood pressure and protect your heart. Packed with essential vitamins and minerals, they are also sodium, cholesterol and fat free.  There is around 54 calories in 1 cup of strawberries which is 1/3 the amount of calories in a banana.
There are several health benefits to strawberries:
Can help to boost short term memory:  The anthocyanins in strawberries can help to boost short-term memory
Lower your risk of cardiovascular disease : Flavonoids which are responsible for the colour and flavour of strawberries have been found to help reduce damage to the lining of the arteries.
Promotes bone health : Strawberries contain potassium, vitamin K, and magnesium which are important for bone health.
Anti-aging properties: Strawberries contain biotin, which helps to build strong hair and nails. They also contains the antioxidant ellagic acid, which protects the elastic fibers in our skin to prevent sagging.
Good for weight loss: The compound nitrate found in strawberries which promotes blood flow and oxygen in the body helps with weight loss.
Promotes eye health:  Eating three or more servings of fruit like strawberries may lower the risk of macular degeneration.  

Enjoy them with some natural yoghurt rather than cream to make it healthier.


Exercise and your heart - do's and don'ts
When you have any type of heart condition - whether it be high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a previous heart attack or stroke, an arrhythmia or any other type of heart problem, you may have been told that you should exercise more to help improve your heart's fitness. However do you know which exercises are good and which ones you should avoid? I've summarised the 'Do's' and 'Don'ts' below. Please ask me for further information if you aren't sure about something.

Do's - What exercises are good for my heart?

  • Walking - yes you've heard it before but walking is one of the best activities you can do - it helps to build up your fitness gradually and studies have shown that walking can help to heart attack, stroke and cancer (read more here). Aim to build up gradually - buy a step counter (this one is great), make a note of how many steps you do on a normal day (around the house, at work etc) and add 10% each week.
  • Resistance exercise - building stronger muscles helps the heart to work more efficiently. Resistance exercise also helps to reduce bodyfat, strengthen the bones, improve blood sugar levels and increase your metabolism. Exercises to include are:
    • Squats - pretend like you are sitting back into a chair, lower yourself down keeping your bottom back. Push through the heels to return to standing. Repeat x 10.
    • Wall press. Stand 30cm from the wall. Place your hands against the wall, a few inches lower than your shoulders, a few inches wider than your armpits. Bend your elbows out to the side until your nose is a few inches from the wall. Press into the palms of your hands to straight the elbows. Repeat up to 10 times.
    • Other aerobic activity that you enjoy - choose swimming, cycling or dancing (or anything that you enjoy). The key is to always warm upwith 5-10 minutes of walking/marching on the spot to ensure you don't start any activity with cold muscles.

Don'ts - What exercises should I avoid?

  • Any activity that feels too hard, makes you uncomfortable, gives you pain or is not enjoyable. The key to any exercise is that you should always be able to hold a conversation, without feeling like you are too breathless. If you feel like you can't catch your breath, slow down, rest and restart slower.
  • Any exercise that makes you hold your breath - exercises like the plank or holding one position for a prolonged period. Holding your breath puts your blood pressure up very quickly.
  • Using weights that are too heavy for you. You should be able to complete at least 10-15 reps. If you are struggling to push the weight then you are more likely to have poor technique and hold your breath (see last point).
  • Moving from lying to standing very quickly - exercises like burpees, down/ups, press ups then jumping up etc. By moving from lying to standing very quickly your blood pressure has to make a rapid change to cope with the increased demands. It then increases rapidly and can make you feel dizzy/unwell. 

Do ask if you have any specific exercise you are worried about.

Have a great week!