It’s blazing hot early this summer around much of the U.S. That’s good news for swimming pool operators and air conditioner technicians. But the record-high temperatures we’re experiencing can cause health issues for anyone, especially people with cardiovascular conditions or at risk for them.
The American Heart Association reminds everybody to pay attention to the extreme heat. Precautions are particularly important for older adults and people with high blood pressure, obesity or a history of heart disease and stroke, as well as those taking some cardiovascular medications.
Temperatures exceeding 100°F or even temperatures in the 80s with high humidity can cause a dangerous heat index that can be hard on the heart. Heat and dehydration cause the heart to work harder.
Stay hot-weather aware and stay safe. Follow these five tips from the American Heart Association:
- Watch the clock: It’s best to avoid the outdoors in the early afternoon (about noon to 3 p.m.) because the sun is usually at its strongest, putting you at higher risk for heat-related illnesses.
- Dress for the heat: Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing in breathable fabrics, such as cotton or materials that repel sweat. Put on a hat and sunglasses. Apply a water-resistant sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and reapply it every two hours.
- Drink up: Hydration is the key to keeping your body cool. Drink a few cups of water before, during and after going outside or exercising. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.
- Take regular breaks: Find some shade or a cool place, stop for a few minutes, hydrate and start again.
- Follow the doctor’s orders: Continue to take all medications as prescribed.
Remember, this kind of weather can sneak up on you, causing heat exhaustion and more seriously, heat stroke.
What to look for and what to do:
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include headaches; cold, moist skin or chills; dizziness or fainting; and nausea or vomiting or both. Respond by stopping what you’re, moving to a cooler place, and dousing yourself with cold water and rehydrating. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist.
Heat stroke isn’t the same thing as a stroke, which is when a blood vessel to the brain either bursts or is blocked by a clot, decreasing oxygen flow to the brain. Symptoms include warm, dry skin with no sweating; confusion and/or unconsciousness; and high fever. Call 911 and seek medical attention right away if you suspect you’re suffering from heat stroke.
Animals can bring out the best in us, and that’s especially true for our horses. The role they can play in maintaining a healthy lifestyle means making time to ride isn’t just for fun — it’s also good for your health! That’s why as part of the American Heart Association’s Healthy Bond for Life™ initiative, the AHA has launched Horses Have Heart — a nationwide community celebrating the love of horses for good health and well-being. You can help build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke by organizing a fundraiser.