Excessive heat is dangerous for everyone, but more so for people with a heart condition like atrial fibrillation. Make sure to pay attention to weather warnings and look at the temperature and humidity. You can find out the temperature for your area on the Met Office website.
Dehydration is a well known trigger for atrial fibrillation and also a common trigger for stroke. To avoid atrial fibrillation attacks in the heat, it is important to keep drinking, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
Drinking enough water will help to protect your heart, but your heart will still need to work a lot harder in hot weather. An increased workload for your heart can trigger atrial fibrillation, and it can also increase your risk of heart failure. To keep your heart protected on extremely hot days try to stay inside and avoid high heat as much as possible.
It’s important in the hot weather that you keep your body temperature from rising. A high body temperature, along with dehydration, can lead to an AFib event. If you have to be out in the hot weather make sure that you wear light clothing and avoid the hottest times of the day. Lightweight and light-coloured clothing are less likely to trap heat against your body.
Too much alcohol can trigger an atrial fibrillation event. As a diuretic, alcohol can make you urinate more which increases your risk of dehydration. Alcohol can also dilate blood vessels which may lower your blood pressure putting strain on the heart. Be careful not to drink too much in one go and keep your intake below guideline levels.
The risk of an AFib event is much higher in hot weather so it’s important that you are not alone where possible. Make sure that whoever you are with understands what to do in the event of heat exhaustion or an attack of atrial fibrillation.
In the event of an attack you need to get out of the heat, remove clothing and cool off with a damp cloth. If you experience chest pain, vomiting or dizziness, seek medical treatment immediately.
With the warmer weather, it’s likely that you may want to break out the BBQ. Try to avoid eating foods that are high in fat or salt. Load up skewers with peppers, cherry tomatoes, courgette and other veggies for a healthy summer treat.