Don’t get beat by the heat

Today is expected to be one of the warmest days so far this summer in the Escanaba area with highs anticipated to reach into the 80s. With July being the warmest month of the year here in Michigan, the American Heart Association would like to remind residents to watch out for signs of heatstroke, which differ from the signs of stroke, and what you can do to protect yourself.

While heatstroke contains the word stroke and both are very serious medical conditions, they are not the same condition and do not present the same symptoms.

Heatstroke, sometimes referred to as sunstroke, occurs when the core body temperature rises above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the organs cannot function properly.

A stroke, on the other-hand, occurs when a blood vessel to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. The disruption of blood and oxygen to the brain causes brain cells to die.

Heatstroke can be brought on by a number of external environmental factors, typically involving high temperatures. Certain medications like beta blockers, ace receptor blockers, ace inhibitors, calcium channel blockers and diuretics (which deplete the body of sodium) can exaggerate the body’s response to heat and may increase the risk for heatstroke.

If you believe someone is having a stroke, you should call 9-1-1 immediately and let the operator know it may be a stroke. A stroke patients chances of survival are greater the sooner they get to the hospital. The American Heart Association teaches the acronym F.A.S.T. for stroke: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1.

Heatstroke however, has different symptoms that include a body temperature of 104 degrees or greater, lack of sweating. Skin will feel hot and dry, unless the heatstroke is a result of exercise, nausea, flushed red skin, confusion, and muscle weakness. If you believe someone is suffering from heatstroke, you should cool them down and call 9-1-1 immediately.

To protect yourself from heatstroke:

– Dress for the weather. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing in breathable fabrics such as cotton.

– Avoid being outdoors for extended periods of time during the middle of the day.

– Stay hydrated. Drink water before, during, and after your activity, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.

– Enjoy a break in the shade as needed.