Cool tips for a hot workout

Summer is hot but it is also the perfect time of the year to go outside with family and friends for fun activities like swimming, cycling and exploring nature. While the long summer days are an additional boon and motivation for doing outdoor activities, we cannot ignore the fact that the heat and humidity give extra stress to our body. Our natural cooling systems may fail if we are exposed to high temperatures for a long time without taking sufficient precautions. In this blog post, we will discuss the ill-effects of overheating on our body during a workout and ways to prevent it. The heat-related illnesses that we should be aware of are:

 

  • Heat cramps: These are brief but painful muscle cramps that occur during or after exercise or work in a hot environment. Heat cramps are thought to be caused by a deficiency of electrolytes like sodium and potassium.

Symptoms: Heavy sweating and muscle pain or spasm.

Treatment: Stop your exercise and drink water.

  • Heat exhaustion: It is the body’s response to an excessive loss of water and electrolytes.

Symptoms: Heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting and fainting.

Treatment: Stop your exercise and move to a cool place.

Loosen your clothing, take a cool shower or splash yourself with cold water and drink water.

  • Heat stroke: It is the most serious form of heat injury and is considered a medical emergency.

Symptoms: Lack of sweating despite the heat, headache, dizziness, red hot and dry skin, muscle weakness or cramps, nausea and vomiting, rapid heartbeat which may be either strong or weak, rapid shallow breathing, seizures and unconsciousness. Behavioural changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering may also occur.

Treatment: Call for a doctor, and start the first aid until emergency personnel reach the spot. Move the victim to a cool place, loosen clothing, try to lower body heat by immersing in a tub of cold water, and place wet towels in the armpits, groin, neck, and back.

Any and all of these heat-related conditions can pose a threat to the heart function because the pumping of the heart depends on a delicate balance between the fluids and electrolytes in our body. To protect ourselves from these illnesses proper precautionary measures should be taken before starting the workout.

Plan your workout

Exercise up to your ability, don’t push too hard. Low to moderate intensity exercise is preferable. Break longer workout sessions into 2-3 short sessions (for example ½ hr in the morning and ½ hr in the evening).Choose a park with a lot of shade or the beachside to avoid the heat. Swimming and cycling are good options for aerobic workouts. Strength training and other forms of exercise can be done in the outdoors when the heat is less or in an air-conditioned room or gym.

Always start your session with warm-ups and finish with a cool-down. Some basic warm-up exercises are shown here:

And a few useful cool-down stretches are shown here:

 

Tips for a cool and refreshing outdoor summer workout

  • Get a health check done prior to starting any new exercise.
  • Time your workout for early mornings or late evenings to avoid the heat.
  • Before starting your workout have a cold shower to reduce body temperature.
  • Try to find a shaded area for your workout.
  • Wear light and loose clothing.
  • Apply sunscreen before going out for a workout.
  • Drink sufficient amounts of water; tender coconut water is a good electrolyte source after a workout.
  • Listen to your body, don’t overdo any exercise.

Cardiac Wellness Institutes celebrates World Health Day on 7 and 8 April 2018 with a goal to make “Health For All” a reality. There will be a medical camp which includes basic parameters like body mass index, blood pressure, important blood tests, and a consultation with the doctor, physiotherapist and dietician. We will be conducting group fitness sessions and education and counselling classes on healthy diet, stress management etc. Each participant also gets an opportunity to sponsor the camp for an underprivileged person.

So this summer stay tuned in to www.cardiacwellnessinstitute.com for some cool programs for a better health today and forever!

Medications for your heart, in a nutshell

A question I am often faced with while talking to my patients is “Do I really need to take so many medicines doctor?” and my answer to them is “Each one of these drugs has a specific action in your body, let’s first get you to understand them better and then see how we can reduce them.”

Antithrombotic or blood thinning drugs

These drugs work by reducing clot formation in the blood vessels (anticoagulants such as heparin or warfarin) or preventing the clumping of platelets in the arteries (antiplatelet drugs). They are usually referred to as ‘blood thinners’. You are prescribed this group of drugs if you have had a heart attack, stroke, transient ischemic attack, coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, an angioplasty, a bypass surgery, congenital heart disease or a valve replacement procedure.

Commonly used blood thinners are:

  •      Aspirin (eg. Ecosprin)
  •      Clopidogrel (eg. Deplatt, Clavix)
  •      Ticagrelor (eg. Brilinta, Axcer)
  •      Dual antiplatelet therapy is a combination of aspirin and clopidogrel  (eg. Clopitab-A, Clavix-AS)
  •      Vitamin K antagonist (eg. Acitrom)

The main side effect of taking blood thinners is bleeding. You have to report to your doctor if you have any symptoms of bleeding like excessive tiredness, sudden weakness, blood in stools, dark coloured stools, blood in urine or excessive menstrual bleeding. Elective procedures (such as tooth extraction, cataract surgery, urological procedure etc) should be done with the advice of the treating cardiologist.

Antihypertensive drugs

There are several classes of drugs used to lower the blood pressure. The commonest are

  • Diuretics – that is ‘water pills’ that causes you to make more urine (eg. Lasix, Tide Plus, Dytor)
  • Drugs that act on the Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone system – they act on the hormones that raise blood pressure and block them and are particularly important in the treatment of diabetic patients with high blood pressure (eg. Pinom, Repace, Cardace, Zestril)
  • Calcium channel blockers – work by blocking the entry of calcium into the cells of heart and blood vessels and hence reduce blood pressure (eg. Amlong, Cilacar)
  • Beta-blockers – reduce blood pressure as well as the workload on the heart by blocking the beta-receptors in the heart and blood vessels (eg. Starcad, Cardivas, Nebicard)
  • Several drug combinations of the aforementioned drug groups are available in the market

The side effects of antihypertensive drugs include low blood pressure, slow heart rate, swelling of feet etc. and the symptoms may be giddiness, breathlessness, and fatigue (to mention a few).

Antidiabetic drugs

As diabetes and cardiac problems often coexist in the same individual, drugs to lower the blood sugar are a common feature of a cardiac prescription. The two main groups are oral antidiabetic drugs and Insulin injections. Some commonly used drugs are:

  • Biguanides like Metformin (eg. Obimet, Glycomet) – work by reducing glucose production in the liver and increasing the uptake of sugar by peripheral cells like skeletal muscle. It is the first drug to be prescribed in a newly diagnosed diabetic patient along with dietary modification and exercise regime.
  • Sulfonylureas like Gliclazide, Glimepiride (eg. Amaryl, Diamicron) – act as insulin secretagogues and increase the insulin production in the pancreas.
  • Glitazones, Voglibose, Vildagliptin, Empagliflozin etc. are some other oral drugs used to control blood sugar levels.
  • Insulin comes in various forms such as rapid-acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting, long-acting and pre-mixed forms.

The main side effect to watch out for is hypoglycemia or low blood sugar (<70mg/dl), which manifests as giddiness, shakiness, anxiety, hunger, irritability, sweating, palpitations, and if the hypoglycemia worsens as confusion, slurring of speech, blurred vision, seizures and loss of consciousness.

Cholesterol-lowering drugs

Statins are commonly prescribed drugs (eg. Atorvastatin, Rosuvastatin) that help to eliminate excess cholesterol from the body. Muscle weakness, body pain and altered liver function are some common side effects of statins.

Antifailure drugs

The heart’s function or ability to pump blood may be reduced as a result of coronary artery disease, heart muscle disorder, valve problems of the heart and some other causes too. Many drugs described in the antihypertensive section are used to treat heart failure; Digoxin (eg. Lanoxin) is also used in the intravenous or oral route.

Antiarrhythmic drugs

When the heart beats too fast or too slow, doctors recommend drugs to reduce the abnormal heartbeats (eg. Cordarone) or artificial pacemaker to increase the very slow heart rate. There are several drugs in this group.

Nutritional Supplements

Vitamin tablets, iron supplements, omega fatty acids, resveratrol etc. are prescribed to support the nutritional requirements of cardiac patients.

Device therapy (eg. ICD, CRT-d, LVAD) is recommended for individuals in addition to medical management when warranted. End-stage heart failure can be managed by heart transplantation procedure when a suitable donor becomes available.

With this overview of medications and management of heart disease, we hope you are better equipped to help yourself or your loved ones. This should prompt you to keep a medication diary wherein your current prescription drugs are listed out and any changes to them or any side effects are noted down. Also, remember that alcohol is best avoided while on heart meds as it interacts with many drugs and can cause harm by reducing the potency of the drug and/or increasing the unwanted side effects.

Better control of your risk factors through healthy lifestyle changes is a definite way to reduce the dosage and number of drugs. However, changes should only be made after consulting your physician.

Staying Cool by the Pool

Summer Fruits are one of the best ways to beat the heat. So, let’s have a look at some fruits to keep you cool this season.

Some fruits are extremely useful during summer because they refresh, rehydrate and rejuvenate us during the hot days. When the environment is hot and humid, our body has to work harder to maintain a normal temperature. This is automatically achieved by our body’s internal mechanism by altering the blood circulation and losing water through skin and sweat glands. Heat waves are extremely dangerous in cities due to pollutants that are trapped in the atmosphere. During a heat wave, it is recommended to reduce strenuous activities or reschedule them to a cooler time of the day. Moreover, you should avoid too much of sun exposure in the daytime. It is also recommended to drink a lot of fluids in the summer even if you don’t feel thirsty.

Extreme temperatures are not only demanding on the body’s metabolic mechanism, they can also be a threat to the normal functioning of the heart. It is because of this reason that we recommend individuals with heart ailments to take extra precaution in the summer and winter seasons.

While water is very important at such high temperatures, you can also resort to fruits in order to keep your body hydrated and healthy. Eating summer fruits is a healthy way to keep you cool and get all the goodness of nature. These are the fruits to cool you down:

  1. Watermelons
  2. Lemons
  3. Pineapples
  4. Muskmelons
  5. Sweet Limes

Watermelons

  • Watermelons are made of 92% water and electrolytes, and it has the highest water content out of all summer fruits. One cup (100g) of watermelon has only about 46 calories.
  • Melons are low in saturated fat and sodium and they are a good source of potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, C, B1 and B6.
  • It can have a positive effect on people suffering from asthma, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer and arthritis. Melons have antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals to keep us youthful and energetic.

Lemons

  • Lemons generally have 89% water and it is one of the most refreshing drinks in summer. One lemon fruit contains 17 – 24 calories, depending on the size.
  • They are a good source of vitamin B6, potassium, iron and an excellent source of dietary fibre and vitamin C.
  • Lemon water is very good for common summer weather problems like nausea, heartburn and dehydration.

Pineapples

  • Pineapples are a delicious summer fruit. It has approximately 86% of water content. A hundred grams of pineapple contains about 48 calories, mostly from sugars.
  • Pineapples are rich in vitamin C and bromelain, which help fight microbial infections and boosts immunity. It is rich in antioxidant which helps to reduce cholesterol level and prevent heart diseases.
  • Pineapple will help get rid of respiratory tract problems like frequent colds. This fruit contains high amounts of manganese that helps in strengthening bones and connective tissues.

Muskmelons

  • Muskmelon is a popular summer seasonal fruit; it is another high water content fruit with 90% water. 100 grams of muskmelon contains about 34 calories.
  • It is rich in potassium, an important electrolyte that is helpful to regulate blood pressure. Other vital nutrients found in muskmelon are vitamins A, C and K, protein, fibre, folate, calcium and iron.
  • Regular intake of muskmelon reduces the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease while promoting healthy skin and hair. It also provides protection from common cold and some cancers.

Sweet Limes

  • Sweet lime or Mosambi is a versatile fruit with a sweet and sour taste. It has 80% water content and a medium- sized fruit provides 43 calories.
  • It is rich in vitamin C, copper, iron, fibre and calcium. The acids in sweet lime help to flush out toxins from the bowel and to prevent constipation.
  • This fruit is rich in antioxidants and flavonoids that have detoxifying and antibiotic properties and is also effective in healing peptic ulcers.
  • It will keep you hydrated and provide essential minerals and vitamins at the same time. Sweet lime juice is helpful in treating sunstroke.

Including summer fruits in your daily diet can be very beneficial for your overall health this season. The good thing about these summer fruits is that they not just keep you cool, but are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and a lot of other health benefits too.

Enjoy these healthy refreshing fruits in summer and beat the heat!!!