How Could Extreme Heat Secretly Be Damaging Your Heart?

Extreme Heat Secretly Be Damaging Your Heart. Credit | Getty images
Extreme Heat Secretly Be Damaging Your Heart. Credit | Getty images

United States: In 2023, scientists said it was the hottest year ever on Earth. The Earth’s average temperature is rising faster than it did 100 years ago. Additionally, it is also revealed that if this continues, by the middle of the 21st century, the US could have between 27 to 50 days every year where it’s over 90 degrees.

Around one-third of American workers have jobs outside, where it can get hot.

In 2020, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics said about 2,330 people got sick or hurt from being too hot at work. And about 40 people die every year from being too hot at work, according to Medical News Today.

Being out in high heat for a long time can make you sick in different ways, like:

– Heatstroke              

– Feeling really tired from the heat

– Cramps in your muscles from heat

– Headaches from heat

– A rash from heat

– Sunburn

“Also, being out in heat a lot can make existing heart problems worse.”

A new study said being out in high heat a lot might make your immune system weak and make you more likely to have heart problems.

This study was conducted by researchers from the University of Louisville at a meeting of the American Heart Association in 2024. But the study hasn’t been checked by other scientists yet.

How does being too hot affect your heart?

Dr Daniel W. Riggs, a doctor at the University of Louisville, says being too hot is a big problem for heart health.

“As the world gets hotter, really hot days happen more often, and this is bad for people’s health,” says Dr Riggs.

“We need to understand more about how heat affects our health, especially our hearts, so we can find ways to stop it from hurting us,” as quoted by Medical News Today.

“We know that being too hot is bad for your heart, but we’re still learning exactly how it happens,” said Dr Riggs.

Studying how heat affects your body

For the study, Dr Riggs and his team proceeded to request 624 adults to participate. The story illustrates the faces of those people by depicting the majority of them as women and white.

Through the study, participants headed for Louisville, KY, during June, which was normally 76 degrees Fahrenheit.

Researchers harvested the blood from the enrolled members. They first surveyed for a particular group of toxins in the blood. These are the indicators of how much and how well the immune system is directed through inflammation.

In another part of the experiment, the scientists investigated whether or not the temperature affected airports performance too, using a model called UTCI. This signifies how hot it feels outside as a result of the combination of high temperatures, humidity, and directive solar ray.

Extreme Heat Secretly Be Damaging Your Heart. Credit | Getty images
Extreme Heat Secretly Be Damaging Your Heart. Credit | Getty images

Hotter days mean more inflammation

At the end of the study, the researchers found that when the UTCI went up by five degrees, the inflammation in people’s blood went up too.

“We already knew that hotter days make more inflammation,” says Dr. Riggs. “But most other studies only looked at how hot it was outside and just a few things in the blood.”

“We wanted to look at more things in the blood and use a better way to see how hot it really felt outside. And even though the people in our study weren’t in really hot weather, we still found that even moderate heat made their inflammation and immune system different,” Dr. Riggs says.

How heat affects your immune system

The study also found that being too hot made people have fewer B cells. B cells are a kind of immune cell that fights germs, Medical News Today reported.

“We know that heat and humidity can make some diseases spread more easily,” says Dr Riggs.

“This means that not only are people more likely to get sick on hot days, but they’re also more likely to get really sick or have more inflammation.”

“When your immune system isn’t working right, that can make a lot of different heart problems worse,” he mentioned.

Extreme Heat Secretly Be Damaging Your Heart. Credit | Shutterstock
Extreme Heat Secretly Be Damaging Your Heart. Credit | Shutterstock

We need more studies on heat and inflammation – Expert

After reading this study, Dr Justin Lee, a heart doctor at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, says it’s an interesting idea. But he thinks we need more research to be sure.

“It’s a cool idea, but there are other things that we know for sure are bad for your heart—like smoking, being overweight, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and family history,” says Dr Lee.

“It doesn’t seem like the people in this study were picked very carefully, so the results might not be right.”

Dr Cheng-Han Chen, another heart doctor in California, agrees that we need more studies on how heat affects the body.

“We’ve known for a long time that being too hot can hurt your health, including your heart,” says Dr Chen.

“And we know that inflammation in your body can hurt your heart too. This study is good because it shows that the inflammation in people’s blood goes up when it’s really hot outside. So it makes sense that being too hot could hurt your heart, but it’s good to have proof of that,” says Dr Chen.

To stay safe in the heat, Dr Chen outlined to:

– Stay inside in the air conditioning as much as you can

– Stay out of the sun

– Drink lots of water

– Wear loose clothes

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