AHA offers tips to prevent cardiac, other hazards during heat waves
There are five ways in which Americans can prevent heart-related and other adverse events from extreme heat, the American Heart Association stated in a press release.
“If you’re a heart patient, older than 50 or overweight, the American Heart Association suggests you take special precautions in the heat to protect your heart,” Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, MD, ScM, FAHA, president of AHA and chair of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said in the release.
The five tips are as follows:
Watch the clock
The time frame that presents the greatest risk for heat-related heart events is noon to 3 p.m., because that is when the sun is strongest, according to the AHA.
Dress for the heat
During heat waves, the AHA recommends that people wear lightweight, light-colored clothing in breathable fabrics such as cotton or in fabrics that repel sweat. People should also wear hats and sunglasses and apply sunscreen of at least SPF-15 before going outside, reapplying it every 2 hours, according to the association.
People should drink a few sips of water before, during and after going outside or exercising, and should avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, the AHA stated in the release.
“Staying hydrated is key. It is easy to get dehydrated even if you don’t think you’re thirsty,” Lloyd-Jones said in the release. “Drink water before, during and after going outside in hot weather. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. And the best way to know if you are getting enough fluid is to monitor your urine output and make sure the urine color is pale, not dark or concentrated.”
Take regular breaks
During outdoor activities, people should regularly find a shady place to take a break for a few minutes and hydrate, the AHA stated.
Follow the doctor’s orders
Individuals should continue to take all medications as prescribed, the AHA stated in the release.
“Some heart medications like angiotensin receptor blockers, ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers and diuretics, which affect blood pressure responses or deplete the body of sodium, can exaggerate the body’s response to heat and cause you to feel ill in extreme heat,” Lloyd-Jones said in the release. “But don’t stop taking your prescriptions. Learn how to keep cool and talk to your doctor about any concerns.”
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include headaches, heavy sweating, cold or moist skin, chills, syncope, a weak or rapid pulse, muscle cramps, fast and shallow breathing, nausea and vomiting, whereas symptoms of heat stroke include warm and dry skin with no sweating, a strong and rapid pulse, confusion and/or unconsciousness, high fever, throbbing headaches, nausea and vomiting, the AHA stated in the release.
People with symptoms of heat exhaustion may need to seek medical attention and should move to a cooler place, stop exercising, douse themselves with cold water and rehydrate, whereas people with symptoms of heat stroke should seek medical attention immediately, according to the AHA.