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Have a heart for those who suffer in plum rain season

WEATHER can bring on relapses for those suffering from heart diseases. Zhang Qian reports. Stepping out in huangmei tian (the plum rain season) from June 20 with its continuous dampness is a problem for many people. Apart from discomfort in the chest and poor appetite, many chronic diseases reappear, especially potentially risky heart diseases.

TCM suggests a nap at noon, light exercise and a plain diet to protect your heart.

The annoying continuous rain and high humidity from mid-June to early or mid-July is a characteristic of the region south of the Yangtze River. And as it happens to be the season when local plums turn yellow and mature, it is called huangmei tian, literally meaning yellow plum season.

High temperatures, frequent rain and high humidity are all typical of this season. Apart from encouraging the growth of mould and bacteria, the weather can also bring on relapses for those who suffer from eczema, rheumatism, hypertension, arthritis and several heart diseases.

It is said that people feel most comfortable in an environment of about 22 degrees Celsius and 60 percent relative humidity. But during the huangmei tian, the temperature in Shanghai usually stays around 30 degrees with relative humidity ranging from 80 percent to 85 percent.

It is difficult for the human body to eliminate the irksome heat and dampness. That's why people often feel uncomfortable and irritable over this period.

TCM explains it as a strong pathogenic heat and dampness in the universe, invading the human body and causing energy disorders. Chest discomfort, psychological depression, poor appetite, indigestion and some functional disturbances of vegetative nerve like rapid heart rates or rashes on the face may occur.

Humidity leads to high energy consumption, which makes people get tired easily, according to Dr Zhou Duan, director of the TCM Internal Medicine Department of Longhua Hospital attached to the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

In this case, the body needs faster blood circulation to transfer needed nutrition and energy, which eventually burdens the heart. Patients who already have heart problems, have to be careful with relapses, while healthy people should also be cautious about placing extra burdens on the heart for long periods.

Dr Xu Ying, chief physician at the Internal Medicine Department of Shanghai Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital, suggests that we take a nap at noon and also avoid staying up late at night to protect against heart problems during this awkward season.

Taking a 30-minute nap at noon can help decrease the risk of miocardial infarction for patients suffering from heart diseases. It is important for young office workers to keep a good immunity and thus prevent heart problems like myocarditis.

The advice to them is to slow down and strike a proper balance between work and rest. Drinking flower teas like rose, jasmine or osmanthus can help relieve the chest discomfort while TCM patent drugs like Huoxiang Zhengqi Wan (ageratum healthy energy pill) and Shexiang Baoxin Wan (musk protecting heart pill) can help protect the heart.

Though physical exercise can help keep us fit most times, intense exercise in huangmei only works contrarily. Intense physical exercise will accelerate the heart beat greatly in a short time, but the sudden expansion of the blood vessels can be dangerous.

It is best to do an hour of light exercise which can raise sweat that can get rid of excessive internal heat while not overburdening the heart.

The best hours for exercise are 6am-7am and 6pm-7pm when there is a relatively mild temperature and humidity. Opening windows or using a fan or air-conditioner to keep the humidity at 50 percent to 60 percent also helps, according to Zhou.

He also suggests a plain diet with damp-expelling foods like yams, pearl barley, white gourd, white radishes, tomatoes, dried purple seaweed and kelp. To relieve chest discomfort

The feeling of chest discomfort is common in plum rain season, especially for the patients with heart disease, according to Dr Xu Ying.

Drinking flower teas like rose, jasmine and osmanthus can help improve the mood and calm nerves, relieving chest discomfort. Hawthorn, ebony and Semen Cassiae teas can also help.

The smell of thyme, chamomile, mint, lavender, hyssop and sweet mary can help sooth nerves, and relieve the discomfort.

TCM herbs or patent drugs with ingredients like ageratum and musk can help protect the heart. Research shows that Shexiang Baoxin Wan (musk protecting heart pill) can help expand coronary arteries, relieve chest discomfort and prevent angina attacks.

The best way to take a nap

Do not sleep too long. A 20-30 minute nap can help relax the body and refresh the mind.

Do not sleep immediately after lunch, which can cause indigestion. The best method is to sit for 10 minutes before going to bed.

Drink a cup of water before sleeping. Heavy sweating in summer often leads to a thickening of the blood. Drinking water before sleeping can help.


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