health

How heat stroke can cause untold damage to your heart

Doctors caution about heart protection in soaring summer heat

Staff Report
20:00 August 11, 2017
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Dubai: Our hearts can suffer adverse effects with the mercury soaring well above the 40-degree mark, warn doctors.

Poor care and maintenance can lead to heart-related complications, said Dr Ahmad Fakri Alhimairi, non-invasive cardiologist at the Canadian Specialist Hospital Dubai.

He explained: “The human body maintains its internal temperature at around 37°C but as the environment warms up, the body tends to warm up as well. Heat-related challenges range from irritating problems such as heat rash to exhaustion and heat strokes." 

Dr Alhimairi added: "People who do not consume enough water may face dehydration, hypotension, fast heart rate due to hyperdynamic circulation, angina due to workload on the heart, and worsened heart failure status as they may need admissions to hospital for stabilisation.

Heart exhaustion

"In advanced cases, they may get cardiac arrhythmia due to the heart exhaustion, hyperdynamic circulation and electrolytes disturbance.”

Who is at risk?

Hot, humid weather can be especially hard for people with damaged or weakened hearts, or older people whose bodies don’t respond as readily to stress as they once did. The extra work for the heart, compounded by the loss of sodium and potassium and the internal flood of stress hormones, can push some people into trouble. The combination of increased blood flow to the skin and dehydration may drop blood pressure enough to cause dizziness or falls.

Symptoms

“It can be hard to tell where heat exhaustion ends and heat stroke begins. Both can be mistaken for summer ‘flu’ at first. Most people are aware of the importance of drinking fluids during the summer but very few solemnly follow it. In order to maintain the body temperature, the body produces sweat, which means that you lose more fluid than usual from your body. This can drop your blood pressure and make your heart beat faster. Staying hydrated helps your body sweat and maintain a normal body temperature. Be on the lookout for nausea or vomiting, fatigue, headache, disorientation or confusion and muscle twitches,” added Dr Fakhri.

 

Dos and Don’ts

Avoiding heat strokes and heart issues

People with heart problems, chronic kidney disease, diabetes mellitus and patients should avoid diuretics as sodium depletion can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

Drink plenty of water and other fluids and make sure you stay well hydrated throughout the day, especially those who suffer from kidney disease and diabetes.

Use sun screen, wear loose clothes, avoid prolonged exposure to the sun, avoid heavy work in hot weather.

In case you do feel the ‘flu’, consult your doctor immediately.

Make wise choices in clothes to help beat the weather and prevent heat from overstressing your heart and spoiling your summer.

Put off exercise or other physical activity until things cool down.