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This Summer, Have a (Healthy) Heart

Summer is a great time of year for travel, outdoor fun, cookouts and festivities.

Whether you suffer from heart disease, are at risk for heart disease or just want to maintain a heart healthy lifestyle, here’s some tips from your neighborhood cardiologist, Dr. Richard Daw, who practices at the Apex and Cary offices of WakeMed Heart & Vascular Physicians.

5 Tips for Staying Heart Healthy This Summer

#1 – Stay Active.

Here in NC, summer can be S-W-E-L-T-E-R-I-N-G, but that doesn’t justify sitting in front of the TV all day.

Develop a summer heat exercise regimen – whether it involves exercising before or after sundown, joining a gym, walking indoors or establishing a home fitness routine – have a plan to keep moving when the heat strikes.


#2 – Keep the Grill Healthy.

While burgers and hots dogs can be tempting grill fare, be heart smart and choose healthier lean meats such as shrimp, fish, boneless/skinless chicken. Skip the butter and use olive oil, and add lots of colorful veggies. Instead of fries or potato salad, choose your sides wisely.

Opt for healthy grains or a cold salad featuring in-season produce and/or legumes. Your heart will thank you! You can find some great recipes online with a quick search for heart healthy salads – you can find some of our faves here.

#3 – Travel Smart.

If you have a heart condition, excess heat and humidity can cause additional strain on your heart and lungs. Take this time to plan a getaway to a cooler destination.

Regardless of where you travel, talk to your physician to discuss any concerns before you leave town. Always bring your medications and make sure your travel partner(s) know of any medical conditions.

#4 – Don’t Overdo It.

With beautiful weather, it can be easy to get carried away with gardening, exercise, sight-seeing or other strenuous activities. Listen to your body – take regular breaks and be aware of signs and symptoms of a cardiac event, which can often be overlooked in the summer heat, including:

  • shortness of breath
  • palpitations/irregular heartbeat
  • weakness or dizziness
  • chest discomfort/pain
  • nausea/vomiting
  • unexplained sweating


#5 – Limit Exposure to Extreme Heat.

Did you know that just a two-day heat wave may increase the risk of premature heart-related deaths?

According to researchers, being exposed to extreme temperatures like we tend to see here during a hot NC summer can trigger changes to your blood pressure, blood thickness, heart rate and cholesterol.

When the mercury rises, limit your time outdoors – especially between noon and 3 pm, which is typically the hottest time of day in NC summer.

With these tips in mind, we hope you and your family enjoy a happy, heart-healthy summer.

About Richard Daw, MD

Dr. Richard Daw is a cardiologist with WakeMed Heart & Vascular. He specializes in a number of cardiovascular services, including: non-invasive cardiac procedures, peripheral, arterial, and venous testing, electrophysiology, cardiac catheterizations and more. He holds certification in advanced cardiac life support.  Learn more about Dr. Daw, and schedule an appointment.