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It’s the season for enjoying the outdoors – in the garden, patios, parks or for long strolls or jogs. In the hot summer season it’s useful to be aware of some heart related challenges for those with, or at risk of, heart problems. Below are my summer-friendly naturopathic heart health tips.

Impact of Heat on the Heart

Much of the heart is muscle and when exposed to heat, the muscles adjust their function to accommodate the heat. Typically the heart beats faster with heat and this extra workload may be an issue for some with risk of, or presence of, heart-related issues like arrhythmia, heart failure, or history of heart attacks. The body is also more prone to losing moisture through perspiration; so this can create more work for the heart if there is less volume of blood due to excess perspiration.

Know Your Risk for Heart Issues

If you have more risk factors for heart disease, than you need to be more mindful of the summer heat.

Risk Factors for Heart Disease

• Obesity
• High blood pressure
• High cholesterol
• Smoking
• Sedentary lifestyle
• Stress
• Unhealthy diet
• Persistent inflammation
• Diabetes
• Age
• Male gender
• Family history of heart disease

Timing, Keep Cool and Properly Hydrate

If possible, avoid the hottest times of the day for your outdoor exertion – 12-3pm. It is helpful to dress for the weather; if it’s hot outside, wear fabrics that can easily allow air flow or to ‘breathe’ such as thin cottons or fabrics that allow perspiration to escape. Wide brimmed hats help keep your head cooler. Consuming water and diluted juices regularly can also help make sure your body has sufficient fluids to help control your bodily heat since perspiring helps your body get rid of internal heat. A general sign of dehydration is dark yellow urine as well as dry lips and throat.

Keep Moving, Though Take Breaks

The activity and exercise you get is very important for maintaining heart health, and being outdoors provides cleaner air and a view of natures beauty. So keep moving and enjoy the outdoors, though take breaks. It’s ideal to take breaks in the shade under a tree or beside a building or to go indoors. This will allow your body to cool down more effectively.

Dietary Support

By eating healthily you give your body what it needs to regulate itself when under heat stress. Be sure to include vegetables and fruits as not only do they provide vital nutrients, they are also a great source of fluids. The allium family (garlic, onions and chives) have heart supportive benefits and are good to include in your regular diet and in your garden.

Know your signs of excess heat so you know when to stop exercising outdoors:
• Headaches
• Moist skin
• Dizziness and light-headedness
• Weakness
• Nausea and vomiting
• Dark urine

Get Checked

It’s helpful to get regular checks from your primary care practitioner to know your actual level of heart risks from the heat. Some aspects that make you more vulnerable to the impact of summer heat include: diabetes, chronic lung/heart diseases, obesity, medications such as beta-blockers, diuretics, anti-histamines and others.

Dr. Rahim Habib ND
About the Author

Rahim Habib is a registered naturopathic doctor with over 15 years of experience in general family practice. He has a special interest in helping patients comprehensively detoxifying their bodies for preventative and therapeutic benefit. He also has a special interest in children’s health, assisting kids in their learning and behavioural health with conditions such as ADHD, Autism spectrum, asthma, allergies and childhood obesity. He also helps adults with chronic conditions, such as thyroid disorders, infertility, inflammation, obesity, autoimmunity, dementia and cancer care. He is the director of the Four Seasons Naturopathic Clinic for Detoxification and Healing and can be reached at 905-597-7201 or www.FamilyNaturopath.ca.