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Blog: Is Heatstroke a Real Danger?

Is Heatstroke a Real Danger?

Let’s face it. Arizona, and the Phoenix area, in particular, are hot. Desert living has many perks: plentiful sunshine, temperate winters, and, even in the summer, relatively cool mornings. Yet on the flip side, temperatures soar once the sun starts to get high in the sky. In fact, the average high for Phoenix in July is 106°F. But even when it gets hot, you can’t expect your life to stop. Work, leisure, and everyday tasks may require you to spend an extended period of time out in the sun.

Hopefully, you remember to use sunscreen and drink a lot of water. But do you ever consider the possibility of heatstroke? Although you may have dealt with heat-related issues before, heatstroke can have fatal consequences.  

If you do worry about your risk, come see us at Phoenix Heart. We were recently voted No. 1 in cardiology groups by Ranking Arizona magazine and we set the bar in cardiovascular care. Our medical team is dedicated to treating patients and their caregivers with the utmost respect, empathy, and professionalism. And, we’re consistently at the forefront of adopting the newest and best technologies to advance the health of our patients.

Heatstroke is a real danger. Use this blog post to learn more about heatstroke and the real danger behind it, and be sure to visit us if you think it may be a problem for you.

What is heatstroke?

Heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia, is the exact opposite of its more well-known antithesis, hypothermia. While hypothermia is characterized by cold or freezing temperatures impacting the body’s ability to function, hyperthermia is when the body overheats. 

Heatstroke is the most serious form of heat injury, a classification that also includes heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and sunburn. Heat exhaustion, which is serious but less severe and less lethal, becomes heatstroke once the body’s temperature exceeds 103° or 104°F.

Heatstroke symptoms

Be on the lookout for heatstroke symptoms when you or others have been out in the heat for a long period of time or have been doing strenuous activities in the sun. Heatstroke often progresses from heat exhaustion or heat cramps, but this is not always the case. Common symptoms include:

  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Light-headedness
  • Lack of sweating
  • Red, hot, and dry skin
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Confusion, disorientation, or staggering
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

While anyone can suffer from heat exhaustion, the young and old tend to be more susceptible. Observe children when they play outside in the summer and make sure you check up on older relatives and neighbors during particularly hot stretches.

Heatstroke complications

The effects of heatstroke can extend beyond the event itself. When not treated promptly and properly, heatstroke can lead to organ damage of the brain, kidneys, and heart. Severe, untreated heatstroke can be fatal.

How to help someone suffering from heatstroke

Heat exhaustion can be treated without expert medical care. Heatstroke, however, needs immediate medical attention. 

Call 911 first if you think someone is suffering from heatstroke. Once you’ve called 911, move the person into air conditioning; if air conditioning is not close, then move them to the shade. Remove any tight clothing and begin to cool the person with water. If inside, use a cold shower or ice tub. Even a garden hose or any other type of water dispenser can be used if outside.

If ice packs are available, put them on the person’s armpits, groin, neck, or back. These areas can cool the body quickly. If the person is able to drink, have them take small sips of a cool beverage. Fan the victim to promote sweating and evaporation. 

 Summer heat is serious and heatstroke can have devastating consequences. If you want to make sure your heart can keep up with the heat, Phoenix Heart can help. Call or request an appointment at one of our five Phoenix offices today.

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