When Weather’s Hot, Exercise Carefully


Dr. Geisler and EdAs hot days continue in Central Texas, KVUE-TV recently talked to Dr. Caitlin Giesler, cardiologist with the Ascension Seton Heart Institute, and one of her patients about being careful when exercising when temperatures over around 100 degrees. Here is part of the story:

Cardiologists warn that when temperatures get above the normal body temperature of 98.6 degrees, the heat will take a faster toll on a person’s body and increase the risk of heat stroke.

In Austin, heat-related emergency calls are rising. Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services responded to 11 heat-related calls over the weekend.

Ed Sonntag, 65, said he’s exercised just about every day since he was a kid. Hiking is one of his favorite activities. He learned he had heart disease 15 years ago.

“It scared me,” he said. “I was really surprised, because I always try to walk every day.”
Sonntag began taking heart medication, but came across trouble a few months ago while hiking in Big Bend with his wife, Kathy.
“All of a sudden I had this heart issue,” Sonntag said. “I just couldn’t catch my breath.”
He made it back to Austin, but needed quadruple bypass surgery.

Cardiologist Caitlin Giesler with Ascension Seton Heart Institute said 100 degree temperatures significantly impair our body’s ability to release heat, and heart disease patients are more at risk because their vascular disease requires medication.

“Those medications really exaggerate the effects of heat on the body,” Giesler said.

Doctors want patients to keep exercising because it’s important in maintaining heart health, but Giesler said it’s important to listen to your body while exercising.

“If you are starting to feel more short of breath and more fatigued, slow down,” she said. “Some people have to reduce the intensity of their workouts.”

Another key is to pay attention to your recovery.

“If you are feeling more short of breath or tired when you exercise, when you go inside to rest it should come back to normal pretty quickly,” Giesler said.

Sonntag learned how to balance what he loves with what makes the most sense for his heart.
“I get up early in the morning, and I do my walking,” he said. “I go to cardiac rehab and at 10:30 or 11 a.m., I’m back in the house. I don’t fight the heat. The heat is too much.”