Heat Alert – Heart Health at Risk when Temperatures Rise
Plant-based foods reduce the risk
Many are not aware that heat and cardiovascular conditions can be a deadly combination. We are more in tune with the risks of extreme cold and shoveling heavy snow and don’t regard high heat and humidity as equally worrisome. But we should.
The American Heart Association has deemed July Summer Heart Health Month and for good reason. Individuals with cardiovascular conditions, such as high cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure, or an arrhythmia are at greater risk when the temperature is high. There is strong evidence that exposure to extreme heat directly leads to greater cardiovascular mortality.
Yes, the usual measures of hydration, cooling mechanisms, and breathable clothing are necessary to prevent heat-induced illness, but preventing heart disease in the first place or engaging in behaviors that will mitigate disease can begin any time of the year and will offer benefits year round.
Better nutritional choices and physical activity – not new concepts but ones that work.
The medical and nutritional fields are awash with diet plans and fitness routines. Most work to some degree, at least initially, when participants are eager and motivated to change their lifestyle and improve their cardiovascular health. Research is clear, however, about the benefits of a plant-based diet. It’s something our hunter-gatherer forebears knew intuitively. Today, it is a lifestyle we have to learn. But once we do and realize how simple it is to follow a plant-based diet results stay with us for life.
Some 16 years ago, the Wellness Foundation set out to help individuals improve their health through the power of a plant-based diet. Working with adults and children, the nonprofit made it its mission to teach individuals the basics by offering education, simple recipes, coaching, and support. For the past ten years, the Foundation has tracked the biometrics of in-person program participants— the average results are a 10-pound weight loss and a 40 point decrease in cholesterol, with many participants also seeing a decrease in blood pressure and the need for prescription medications for these conditions. This was during a six week period.
With temperatures on the rise and taxing our health, this seems like an excellent time to give a plant-based diet a shot. It’s only going to get hotter as the summer months go on. Not to mention, extreme summer heat is increasing in the United States, and climate projections indicate that extreme heat events will be more frequent and intense in coming decades.
Your Heart Deserves a Jumpstart
A short, time-based program such as the one offered by the Wellness Foundation – Jumpstart 360º– is a four-week program focused on improving cardiovascular health through attainable exercise goals, stress management tools, social connection, and of course, plant-based nutrition that focuses on foods known to lower cholesterol and contribute to a healthier microbiome, which strengthens the immune and cardiovascular systems.
The summer is short, but your life is long, and this program gives participants the knowledge and the tools they need to not only make an immediate change in their health, but to sustain that healthy lifestyle beyond the four-week program.
Reducing your risk for cardiovascular diseases and stroke will not only reduce your risk of heat-induced illness, but it will dramatically improve your overall health. A healthier lifestyle with a plant-powered diet and regular exercise are key to improving one’s cardiovascular health.
Creating a Healthier Future for Generations to Come
Adults involved in the Jumpstart 360ºprogram tell me they appreciate the health benefits that accrue, but they are equally grateful that their participation supports free health educational programs for kids. They see it as an investment in the health of future generations, and so does the Wellness Foundation.
The Heart of the Matter
Unfortunately, extreme heat isn’t going anywhere any time soon—the power to reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and heat-induced illness is in our own hands. Preventative measures such as a balanced diet and regular exercise are strong determinants of our health, and some of the strongest weapons we have as individuals to keep our hearts safe in the face of extreme heat.
Wondering what to expect from Jumpstart 360º For Optimal Heart Health? Check out these five ways to optimize heart health for a sneak peek.
Editor’s Note: The next installment of Jumpstart 360º For Optimal Heart Health kicks off on July 27, and will run through the week of August 17. Learn more and register here.