Beat the Heat – and Heart Complications

Every summer, we feel inclined to be more active, especially outdoors. While this can be a great time to get fit, it is also a time to be extra cautious of heat-related illnesses.

Heart patients, especially those overweight or over 50 years of age, should take special precaution in hotter weather, suggests Dr. Gerald Fletcher, professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic of Jacksonville, FL.

Older people need to take precautions in the heat. It is more difficult for a person over 50 to become aware that they are thirsty or dehydrated. “If you’re going to be outside, it’s important to drink water even if you don’t think you need it,” says Fletcher.

He recommends staying away from the outdoors when heat (and the sun) are most powerful, usually about noon to 3 p.m.

Some more heat-safe ideas include:

  • Use the buddy system when exercising – it may keep you safe in case of an emergency.
  • Hydrate before, during, and after heat or sun exposure and avoiding liquids that dehydrate you (like alcohol or caffeine)
  • Apply sunscreen that is water and sweat resistant (at least 15 SPF) and reapply at least every 2 hours.
  • Dress for the heat by wearing lightweight, light colored, and breathable clothing, and choosing shoes and socks with ventilation capability to repel perspiration (which can amplify the heat’s effect).
  • Take breaks regularly by going inside or in the shade for a few minutes to recharge.

How can you tell if you’ve got heat exhaustion?

Symptoms may include heavy sweating, headaches, body chills, cold or moist skin, dizziness or fainting, muscle cramps, a weak and rapid pulse, nausea or vomiting, and fast, shallow breathing.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or think you may have heat stroke, seek medical attention immediately.

This post is published by Sherman Health to provide general health information. It is not intended to provide personal medical advice, which should be obtained directly from your physician.

For more information on Sherman’s Heart and Vascular Center, visit shermanheart.com

About Sherman Health

Sherman Health has provided medical care to Northern IL since 1888, and is currently home to a network of over 600 physicians. The Sherman blogs are edited by me, Luke. Questions? Comments? Links? Email address is luke at shermanhealth dot com.
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