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How Extreme Heat Can Lead to Heart Failure? 4 Ways to Prevent It

Hot weather also means your entire body has to work harder to keep your core temperature at normal levels.

Extreme temperatures can increase health risks for people with chronic conditions, including heart, brain, kidney, and muscle problems. With the mercury rising by the day in summer, our bodies tend to overheat, leading to heat stroke, which usually occurs due to prolonged exposure or physical exertion to high temperatures. This condition is more common in the summer months.

Cases of heart failure, heart attacks, and strokes increase with hot weather. Heart attacks and strokes occur due to interruptions in the normal flow of blood to the heart or brain, the two most vital organs. According to research, patients with heart disease may be particularly vulnerable to heat injury. This means you may be at higher risk if you have a heart condition.

How does hot weather affect the heart and brain?

Sharing input from Dr. Sunita Kapoor, Director and Consultant Pathologist at the City’s X-Ray and Scan Clinic, IANS reported: “Exposure to high temperatures can not only increase the risk of heat stroke and heat exhaustion, but also it can also put the heart at risk.” . Heat can put pressure on the cardiovascular system, making the heart work harder. Hot weather also means your entire body has to work harder to keep your core temperature at normal levels. This puts additional pressure on the heart, lungs and kidneys.”

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In the absence of a rapid response to lower body temperature, heat stroke can cause the brain and other vital organs to swell, possibly leading to permanent damage. So, heat stroke can be fatal, without prompt and proper treatment.

Heat stroke: symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Symptoms of heat stroke

Signs and symptoms of heat stroke may include:

  • high body temperature
  • altered mental status or behavior
  • nausea and vomiting
  • dizziness
  • Fainting
  • muscle cramps
  • shallow and rapid breathing
  • a heat rash, a disturbance in sweating
  • headache.

Also, reddened skin and edema (swelling) in the ankles are also some of the symptoms. The main sign of heat stroke is a core body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher, obtained with a rectal thermometer.


Heatstroke is usually obvious to doctors if you have it, but lab tests can also confirm the diagnosis, as well as rule out other causes of your symptoms and assess for organ damage. Diagnostic tests include:

  1. Body temperature: This test is done to check your core body temperature. Rectal temperature is more accurate than mouth or forehead temperatures. It is the most accurate way to determine core body temperature.
  2. Blood test: This test is done to check blood kidney function, serum electrolyte levels, and arterial blood gas content.
  3. urine test: It is done to check the color, specific gravity, and microscopic content of urine, which may be affected by heat stroke.

In addition to these tests, we must perform an ECG and echocardiography to evaluate and diagnose heart failure. In addition, a CT scan or MRI of the brain is performed if we suspect a stroke in any patient, of which MRI is the investigation of choice.

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Treatment for heat stroke focuses on cooling your body back to its normal temperature. This is done to prevent further damage to the heart, brain, and other vital organs. In that direction, your doctor can take the following measures:

  1. Dive into cold water
  2. Using evaporative cooling techniques
  3. Pack yourself with ice and cooling blankets
  4. Give medicine to stop the chills.

If you have signs or symptoms of heat stroke, home treatment is not enough. You should seek immediate or emergency medical help. However, in the event of a minor heat emergency, such as heat exhaustion or heat cramps, the affected person can go to a shady or air-conditioned area, cool off with damp sheets and a fan, take a cool shower or bath and rehydrate. with fluids and ORS. Make sure you don’t drink sugary or alcoholic drinks to rehydrate.

If you think a person might be experiencing heat stroke, take immediate action and get them emergency treatment. While waiting for help, you can take the person into the shade or inside, remove excess clothing, and cool the patient by any means available. The good news is that heat stroke is predictable and preventable. People with heart problems can follow some basic strategies to stay cool, such as monitoring the weather forecast, drinking water every 20 minutes when outside, avoiding sodas or fruit juices, limiting alcohol intake, and protecting their skin.

(With IANS entry)

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Published Date: June 13, 2023 5:43 PM IST




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