People with heart disease at greater risk for heat stroke

Las Vegas, NV – As temperatures continue to soar well above the 100 degree mark, the extreme temperatures can be dangerous for many in the valley, particularly those with heart problems.

With July typically leading the way for the hottest month of the year in Las Vegas, Ronny Jiji, MD, FACC, a local Cardiologist with Las Vegas Heart Associates affiliated with MountainView Hospital shares why there's a concern for individuals with underlying heart conditions, “Heat stroke can affect anyone, but people with heart disease are at greater risk”. Board-Certified in Cardiovascular Disease and Adult Congenital Heart Disease, Dr. Jiji says, “This is due in part to the fact that the heat causes your heart to work harder by beating faster to lower body temperature through perspiration. People with heart conditions such as congestive heart failure, valvular heart disease, or congenital heart problems have a harder time adapting to temperature change and are at greater risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke.”

Not only is the strain a concern for your heart, it can also affect and damage other organs such as your lungs, kidneys, liver and brain. Dr. Jiji typically educates her patients this time of year to make sure they are drinking plenty of water throughout the day, even more so if they are thirsty, “With high heat and low humidity in the Las Vegas Valley, dehydration is a common problem.” She mentions, “Many patients with congestive heart failure or high blood pressure also take diuretics or water pills which can predispose them to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Headaches, fatigue and dizziness can be common symptoms of dehydration.”

What is the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke?

Heat Exhaustion is a heat-related illness that can involve a number of symptoms including; heavy sweating, rapid heartbeat, tiredness, dark–colored urine just to name a few and can lead to heat stroke which can be deadly. Dr. Jiji shares, “when a person experiences heat stroke, their internal body temperature can be upwards of 106 degrees, this is extremely dangerous for your heart as it can cause rhythm disorders and even cardiac arrest”.

Heat-related illness is preventable, here are some tips on how to stay healthy in the summer heat:

  • Dress in loose, light-colored protective clothing and wear sunscreen
  • Limit time outdoors during the hottest time of day
  • Limit strenuous activities during the hottest time of day
  • If you need to be outside, find shade
  • Hydrate and drink plenty of fluids even if you don't feel thirsty
  • Stay alert to signs of heat-related symptoms

Here are some warning signs to look out for that may mean you could have heat exhaustion:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Fainting
  • Weakness or confusion
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Pale or clammy skin
  • Dark-colored urine

Heat stroke is very serious and can result from prolonged heat exhaustion. Signs of heat stroke include:

  • Hot, red, dry or damp skin
  • High body temperature of 103 or higher
  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Slurred speech
  • Seizures

If you are experiencing symptoms of heat-related illness such as heatstroke like muscle cramps, headaches, nausea, vomiting or are experiencing a serious medical emergency, call 911 immediately.