While extreme weather may not affect everyone, it can negatively impact patients with heart or lung diseases -- as well as those with asthma.
"The weather in Kansas is different everyday and research has shown that we are more affected by certain atmospheric factors," says Lisa Teachman, chief meteorologist for KSN-Channel 3.
"For example, I have cold-weather induced asthma and I have a bad cough and shortness of breath on cold, dry days," Teachman told attendees at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis' combined February Heart Failure and Better Breathers support group meeting.
The Haysville native also shared about her television career and eventual return to her home community.
"I've always loved Wichita's people and the incredible weather events here," she told the group of about 20, who all said that they were either affected by extreme cold, heart or both. "It's like the Superbowl of weather!"
Teachman then shared information from the American Lung Association and American Heart Association:
Cold and dry: Your heart pumps harder in the cold because of constricted blood vessels, which can lead to an increased risk of stroke or blood clots. Cold weather can also cause your heart to work harder to keep your body warm and may cause shortness of breath. Teachman recommends wrapping a scarf around your mouth and nose to help breathe in warm air while outside.
Hot and humid: Certain heart medicines, such as beta blockers or ace inhibitors, can exaggerate the body's response to heat, causing a heat stroke or dehydration. Your heart works just as hard in the summer to keep the body cool, which also can cause shortness of breath or dizziness and weakness.
Air quality: Air pollution levels can be high in hot or cold weather, so it's important to check before going out. Air pollution can trigger asthma or reactions in those with lung diseases. "This can especially happen in Wichita, where there are more building projects and construction than rural areas," says Teachman.
Barometric pressure: Most people can feel this drop. Sometimes a pressure drop can result in a headache, joint pain or difficulty breathing. When the barometric pressure drops, there's less dense air in the atmosphere, meaning it is harder to breathe. This can also be felt in mountainous areas when at higher elevations.
"Being aware of environmental and other triggers is important, but particularly so for patients living with heart failure and chronic pulmonary disease," says Ali Hodge, who leads the Transitional Care Clinics at St. Francis. "We so appreciate that Lisa took the time to speak at our support group meeting."