Top warning signs of a silent heart attack during heatwave you shouldn't ignore | Health - Hindustan Times
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Top warning signs of a silent heart attack during heatwave you shouldn't ignore

By, New Delhi
Jun 07, 2024 02:22 PM IST

Is it too much hot or a heart attack? Symptoms like sweating, dizziness, and weakness can be experienced both amid heat wave and during a heart attack.

Our heart could be under immense stress during severe heatwaves, as it works extra hard to regulate our body temperature. Proper hydration, eating a balanced diet and keeping our bodies cool is the key to keeping our cardiovascular health in top shape. Considering half of the heart attacks are silent in nature, their signs could be missed and this may increase risk of mortality. (Also read | Heatwave and heart attack: What's the connection? How to beat extreme heat and manage heart health)

At high temperatures, there will be changes in metabolism, which will translate into defective functioning of various organs of the body. The extreme temperature has devastating effects on the functioning of the heart.(Unsplash)
At high temperatures, there will be changes in metabolism, which will translate into defective functioning of various organs of the body. The extreme temperature has devastating effects on the functioning of the heart.(Unsplash)

As per heart.org, women and diabetics are at an increased risk of silent heart attacks. Silent myocardial infarction is one where the traditional signs of a heart attack, like chest pain and shortness of breath, are missing and has lesser-known symptoms like fatigue, heartburn, indigestion, and gastric influx, to name a few.

According to Harvard University, almost 45% of heart attacks are silent which means people getting it are more likely to ignore it and not take any action. A strained muscle in the chest or upper back and excessive fatigue are the other signs.

How extreme heat affects the functioning of heart

The human body is primed to work optimally between specific temperatures in the surroundings. At extreme temperatures, there will be changes in metabolism, which will translate into defective functioning of various organs of the body. The extreme temperature has devastating effects on the functioning of the heart.

"During extreme heatwaves, as seen in subcontinent in summer, there will be increased sweating and loss of fluid leading to dehydration. The heart has to work extra hard to maintain adequate circulation. This can increase the strain on the heart and can lead to heart attack, particularly in those who already have underlying conditions like hypertension and diabetes. There can be a sense of fatigue and dehydration in patients who are taking some drugs like diuretics in summer. The dose of these drugs should be adjusted to account for increase sweating," says Dr Sashi K Srivastav, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad.

Reasons for silent heart attack in summer

Dr Sakshi says people with pre-existing heart issues should not indulge in heavy exercising in summer, hydrate themselves well and stay indoor. She shares common causes of silent heart attack in hot weather.

  • Heavy workout or physical activity: Intense heat can activate sympathetic system, leading to increased chances of heart stroke.
  • Exposure to extreme heat can also lead to sense of dizziness and fainting episodes.

How it can be prevented

  • Those with heart problems should not exert too much during peak summer and extreme heat. They should hydrate adequately and stay indoors. Doses of some drugs may be adjusted by the physician.
  • In summers, people at risk for heart diseases should stay away from extreme heat, hydrate themselves and take adequate precautions.

Dr V. Rajasekhar, Senior Consultant Interventional Cardiology & Electrophysiology, Certified Proctor For TAVR & Clinical Director, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad says it's important to pay heed to the warning signs that might indicate you are experiencing a silent heart attack in hot weather.

"While most people associate heart attacks with sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, silent heart attacks can occur without any obvious symptoms, making them particularly dangerous, especially in extreme temperatures," says Dr Rajasekhar as he elaborates on signs and symptoms of a silent heart attack in summer.

Excessive sweating

One of the key warning signs of a silent heart attack in hot weather is excessive sweating. When your body is under stress, such as during a heart attack, it may try to cool down by sweating profusely. If you find yourself sweating more than usual, especially in combination with other symptoms, it could be a sign that your heart is in distress.

Fatigue

Another common warning sign is fatigue or weakness. If you feel unusually tired or weak, especially during physical activity or when exposed to hot weather, it could be a sign of an underlying heart issue. Pay attention to your body's signals and seek medical attention if you experience persistent fatigue.

Shortness of breath

This is another red flag that should not be ignored, especially in hot weather. If you find it difficult to catch your breath, even when at rest or engaging in light activity, it could be a sign of a silent heart attack. This symptom is particularly concerning when combined with other warning signs.

Dizziness

Other warning signs of a silent heart attack in hot weather include nausea, dizziness, and chest discomfort. While these symptoms are not exclusive to heart issues, they should not be ignored, especially when occurring together.

It is crucial to listen to your body and seek medical attention if you experience any of these warning signs, especially during hot weather when the risk of heat-related health issues is higher. Remember, a silent heart attack can be just as dangerous as a traditional heart attack, so it's important to be vigilant and proactive about your heart health.

"Symptoms like sweating, dizziness, weakness and breathlessness can be common in both heat wave and heart attack. So it is important to differentiate them from each other by proper testing including ECG, 2D echo and blood tests like Troponin," says Dr Sakshi.

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