Since mid-May, Italy has been experiencing unprecedented heat waves. Among the risks to be prevented, there are also those for the cardiovascular system. Because of this the Italian Society for Cardiovascular Prevention (SIPREC) has defined some good standards especially for those suffering from cardiovascular diseases or who might be at risk.
First of all, the response to high temperatures is vasodilation, which is the dilation of the arteries that promotes the reduction of blood pressure and sweating with loss of fluids and electrolytes, explains a note. This can cause sudden hypotensive phenomena, linked to low pressure, and cause lipothymic states, strong asthenia, in some cases real syncopes. To avoid it it is necessary hydrate well and frequently and try not to expose yourself excessively to heat.
These principles apply above all at the sea: rapidly passing from the heat to the cold of the sea can lead to a sudden transition from vasodilation to vasoconstriction, causing dangerous consequences, both in heart disease patients and in healthy ones.
The second precaution is to limit physical exercise during the hottest hours.
With great heat and high sweating, the masks they can accentuate breathing problems and expose cardiopathic patients more to respiratory crises or fatigue, due to a reduced supply of oxygenated blood to the brain, the drop in pressure and reduced oxygenation in humid and crowded environments. This does not imply an abandonment of the use of the mask, but a greater awareness of the limitations especially related to increased physical effort (stairs, prolonged standing, etc.) for heart patients.
Among patients who take drugs, two categories deserve special attention. Those who take anti-hypertensive drugs: respecting adherence to the doctor’s prescriptions and consulting him specifically, it is possible to apply dosage adjustments, reducing the dosage and, in some cases, if the blood pressure values are too low, interrupting the administration. These variations are always to be agreed with your doctor and automatically imply the need to measure blood pressure more frequently.
The second category of patients who require more attention are those who use diuretics. Due to the loss of fluids and salts due to sweating, very frequent in subjects with hypertension and heart failure, there is a risk of dehydration and loss of electrolytes, making it advisable to remodel the therapy with diuretics or in any case a hydro-electric supplementation. .
Another recommendation concerns the mountain, which in heart patients causes a reduction in blood oxygenation. A possible mountain holiday must be faced with parameters that guarantee precautions: reach an altitude of no more than 1000-1200 meters; go in progression, with a stop of a few hours every 500-600 meters.
The diet must be characterized by being light and “colorful”, ie with a significant amount of fruit and vegetables, which also allow for faster digestion.
Therapeutic adherence must be respected and adequate prescriptions must be available even in the summer period.
SIPREC is also attentive to the development of technology and projects itself into the near future, where telemedicine will play an important role, especially in the cardiovascular field. “We have promoted the development of a” Heart way “app, to be close even at a distance to those with heart problems – explains Prof. Volpe, President of SIPREC – This project pursues the primary objective of controlling the main risk factors : blood pressure and cholesterolemia “.