Why heat may increase risk of stroke

Chen explained, “The cardiovascular system is a major part of our thermal regulation, our temperature control of our bodies. When you have extreme heat, it interferes with how well the cardiovascular system can regulate our body temperature, and that puts the system under stress.”

Morgan noted, “Dehydration from heat can put stress on the heart and body, and excessive sweating can lead to electrolyte imbalances.”

Heat also affects, said Chen, “how our blood vessels constrict and dilate, so these effects could potentially cause cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.”

As a result, said Morgan, “Extreme heat is a stressor that can cause an increase in blood pressure, and may even increase blood coagulability. Plus, those with pre-existing conditions may be particularly susceptible.”

How to safeguard against stroke in hot weather

Both Chen and Morgan emphasized the importance of staying well-hydrated on hot nights and during hot days.

“That means drink plenty of water before you go to sleep,” said Chen.

He also recommended having as much circulation in one’s bedroom as possible and keeping windows open so that the moving air, even if it is warm, can help sweat evaporate. “Evaporation does help the body cool down,” Chen explained.

Morgan suggested that “cool baths and showers, and cool cloths on the neck, forehead, and torso” can help lower body temperature.

Morgan raised concerns about how climate change can be destructive to one’s cardiovascular health:

“There is concern for pollution and a rise in particulate matter, which can enter both the lungs and bloodstream, negatively impacting healthy heart tissue,” she said.