Heart disease: Millions at ‘greater risk’ of heatstroke in humid weather – symptoms
This Morning: Dr Chris discusses heart disease
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Speaking exclusively to Express.co.us, Professor James Spratt, a Consultant Cardiologist at London Bridge Hospital, warned: “Heat can be thought of as stress on the heart.” Professor Spratt elaborated: “While short exposure to heat, such as in saunas, can be beneficial, if prolonged it can be harmful. The body works hard to maintain a steady core temperature, primarily by diverting blood from internal organs to the skin.”
As Britain’s temperature dial peaked at 40 degrees Celsius for the first time since records began, another heatwave could be on its way.
The Met Office said August temperatures will “remain generally above normal across the south”.
Professor Spratt cautioned that people who have heart disease are at “greater risk” of developing heatstroke.
“If you have heart disease, your heart may not be able to work harder in the heat to maintain cooler body temperatures,” he explained.
Warning signs of heatstroke
Preceding heatstroke, a person will experience signs of heat exhaustion.
It’s important to cool a person down within 30 minutes of when heat exhaustion appears.
Signs of heat exhaustion include:
- A headache
- Dizziness and confusion
- Loss of appetite and feeling sick
- Excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin
- Cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
- Fast breathing or pulse
- A high temperature of 38C or above
- Being very thirsty.
To cool down, a person experiencing heat exhaustion needs to be moved to a “cool place”.
The affected individual then needs to lie down and must raise their feet slightly.
“Get them to drink plenty of water. Sports or rehydration drinks are OK,” the NHS noted.
“Maintaining hydration by drinking is important, but remember that sweating loses salt, not just fluid,” cautioned Professor Spratt.
“Look out for isotonic drinks and minimise drinks high in caffeine or alcohol, both of which can increase fluid loss.”
The skin must also be cooled, either by spraying or sponging with cool water, and fanning, the NHS noted.
“Cold packs around the armpits or neck are good, too,” the NHS added.
“The body loses heat by sweating, an effective way to increase this effect is through immersion in water,” Professor Spratt explained.
If heat exhaustion is not attended to within the 30-minute timeframe it can develop into heatstroke.
A heatstroke is considered a medical emergency that requires a prompt call to 999.
The warning signs of heatstroke include:
- Fast breathing or shortness of breath
- A fit (seizure)
- Loss of consciousness
- Not responsive.
If the person loses consciousness while waiting for an ambulance, put the person into the recovery position.
To help prevent heat exhaustion and heatstroke during hot weather, it’s best to:
- Drink plenty of cold drinks, especially when exercising
- Take cool baths or showers
- Wear light-coloured, loose clothing
- Sprinkle water over skin or clothes
- Avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm
- Avoid excess alcohol
- Avoid extreme exercise.
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