Around this time of year when the weather is scorching hot, we are regularly advised to check in on senior friends and relatives. This doesn’t only apply to the senior population, though. Even young and healthy people should be careful in the heat, and there are specific reasons why this is so. Keep reading to find out how hot summer temperatures can impact your heart health.
Seniors and Hot Summer Temperatures
Seniors are especially susceptible to the heat during summer. Today’s senior population is a more active group than in the past. They exercise, play sports like golf, and generally are not going to sit around just because it’s hot outside. At the same time, many seniors take blood pressure medications and develop some form of heart disease as they age. It doesn’t take much time for an older person to become overheated and develop heat exhaustion. Blood pressure medications exacerbate a person’s reaction to the heat, and water pills can lead to dehydration during the hottest days. The following heart health issues may also be at play in addition to the heat and humidity outside:
- A damaged heart can prevent it from pumping enough blood to help keep the body’s core cool enough.
- If high cholesterol is a problem, there may be narrowed arteries that inhibit sufficient blood flow to induce sweating or recognize thirst.
- Some antidepressants and antihistamines can block sweating and interfere with the regulation of body heat.
- Certain diseases like diabetes, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimers decrease the brain’s response to dehydration.
Symptoms and Signs of Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can occur quickly, and dehydration is typically the main culprit. Pay attention to signs of fatigue, dizziness, confusion, nausea, dark-colored urine, and headache. If a senior’s temperature reaches 104 degrees, it is considered a medical emergency. Caregivers should watch for symptoms of a rising fever in older relatives or friends. Heat stroke is a serious condition with signs of red skin, high temperature, extreme confusion and irrational behavior, a weak pulse, and even unconsciousness. Intravenous fluids may be needed to replenish potassium, sodium, and other vital nutrients that can become depleted in the summer heat.
10 Practical Precautions During Hot Summer Temperatures
Even young healthy people like athletes can be affected by hot and humid weather, so don’t think you are immune. Everyone should take practical precautions during a heat wave.
- Style yourself in loose clothing made with cotton or other breathable fabrics.
- Wear light colored clothing when outside.
- Only exercise in the early morning or evening when the temps are reduced.
- Wear a hat and sunglasses while outside.
- Reduce the amount of exercise you do in hot weather. Take shorter walks or stick to less strenuous workouts.
- Don’t walk or exercise by yourself. Always have a companion.
- If you are without AC, go to the movies, the mall, take a cool shower, or use ice packs to cool off.
- Drink plenty of water during the day even if you don’t feel thirsty.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
- Check on neighbors, relatives, and friends.
Contact Premier Health Network and Urgent Care Center if you or someone you know is exhibiting symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
As always, if you have any further questions, please call (773) 891-2890 today!