AN urgent heatwave warning has been given to the majority of Brits.
And experts are warning that among heat stroke and sunburn, the scorching hot temperatures can put dangerous pressure on the heart.
Joanne Whitmore, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, told The Sun: “You can be at greater risk from the heat if you have a heart condition.
"Your body has to work harder to keep its core temperature to normal levels, putting extra strain on your heart.”
It's especially important to keep fluid levels up.
Dr Manoj Thangham, a cardiologist at Ascension Texas, said dehydration leaves the body trying to compensate, which “puts an excessive amount of toll on all of your body”.
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He warned even those with healthy hearts should be cautious to take care of themselves when it's hot, CBS reported.
It comes as a new study found that when temperatures spike, so do deaths from heart disease.
Temperatures exceeding 37 – or even temperatures 29C and above with high humidity – can be hard on the heart, the research Diagnostic and Interventional Cardiology said.
While it’s unusual for the UK to see temperatures above 37C, there is potential it could hit 40C from the weekend.
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The Met Office said over July 17, 18 and 19, the mercury is expected to hit 35C, but could hit 40C on Sunday.
There is 30 per cent chance that the current heat record – of 38.7C set in Cambridge in 2019 – could be broken.
An Amber Extreme heat warning covering large parts of England and Wales will be in place, with potential for it to be bumped up to Red for the first time ever.
People with heart disease, including arrhythmia and coronary heart disease, should take extra care in the heat.
Ms Whitmore, of BHF, said: “If you use a GTN spray to control your angina, you should take extra care in hot weather.
“The spray can dilate your blood vessels quickly, which causes your blood pressure to suddenly drop and you may feel faint.
“It’s particularly important to stay cool if you have heart failure – speak to your GP or heart failure nurse about other ways to keep cool if you’ve been told to restrict your fluid intake.
“Losing too much body fluid can increase your internal body temperature, which could be life-threatening if left untreated.”
How to protect your heart in heat
To prevent heat-related illnesses:
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water
- Avoid too many alcoholic drinks
- Eat cold foods such as fruit
- Keep your home cool when indoors
- Wear loose clothes
- Avoid extreme exercise
- Keep out of the sun between 11am-3pm
She said symptoms of heat stroke include sweating, cold clammy skin, dizziness, fainting, muscle cramps and heat rash.
“If you suspect that you or someone else has heat stroke, get medical attention immediately,” she said.
“Elderly people and very young children have more difficulty in regulating their temperature and so can be more at risk from extreme temperatures.
“In hot weather, check on your friends and relatives regularly to make sure they are cool and comfortable.
“Do not hesitate in phoning 999 if you develop chest pain and consider contacting 111 if your symptoms are deteriorating or you are worried.”
People with long-term health conditions of the lung or kidneys, diabetes and Parkinson's disease are also more vulnerable to the heat.
And people who find it harder to adapt their behaviour, such as people who are bed-bound, have a disability or dementia, are also more at risk.
This week, the 4.9 million people in the UK with diabetes were warned to be cautious of their condition.
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Dan Howarth, head of care at Diabetes UK, said: "Sitting in the sun for long periods can affect your diabetes because you're not being very active, making blood sugar levels higher than usual.
"On the flipside, if you take insulin to treat your diabetes, it will be absorbed more quickly from the injection site in warm weather, and this increases the risk of hypos."
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