Heart Patients Heed Special Rules to Take the Heat

During this heat, you often hear reminders to drink lots of water, but for some people that may be the wrong thing to do.

People with congestive heart failure need to watch their fluid intake. Dr. Thomas Doyle, a cardiologist with Cotton-O'Neil Heart Center, says those patients don't handle excess fluid well. If they get too much, he says, their heart can't work efficiently and they become even more short of breath and their feet swell even more.

It's recommended heart failure patients limit fluid intake to two liters a day. That's not just water - it's drinks like juice, too. In hot weather, a little more might be all right, but it's a delicate balancing act.

If there is increased thirst, Cotton-O'Neil Heart Center nurse Nancy Hanni says, take extra sips -- not gulps -- of water, and watch for any signs of dehydration suche as dizziness, lightheadedness or fatigue.

Patients must also watch their weight. An extra pounds might mean they're drinking too much while losing five pounds could signal dehydration.

If your mouth feels dry, Hanni recommends using lip balm or sucking on sugarless candy to keep your mouth moist.

It's not just thirst. Doyle says hot weather can also do a number on blood pressure. He says, in the extremes of heat, you may find yourself feeling dizzy or lightheaded.

The best advice, stay inside in the A/C or with a fan, and see your doctor if you notice problems.

Doyle says exercise is still important, but do it early in the morning or find a cool place, like an air-conditioned mall, to walk.

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