Heart group reminds about heat danger

When temperatures are in the 90s and the heat index pushes higher, the American Heart Association warns area residents that extreme heat can be hard on the heart.

As the temperature rise, so can the risk for suffering health issues like heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

"Use common sense and good judgment," said Dr. Frank Dubeck, president of the American Heart Association advisory board in Utica. "Hydration is the most important element to protecting yourself. If you are active in this kind of heat, it takes a quart of water an hour to keep your body hydrated."

During the hot summer months, it’s important to take the proper precautions:

¿ Follow the doctor’s orders. Anyone who may be a heart patient, over the age of 50, overweight or just starting an exercise program, should check with their doctor for the best exercise routine.

¿ Try to watch the clock. It’s best to avoid the outdoors in the early afternoon, about noon to 3 p.m., because the sun is usually at its strongest, putting a person at higher risk for heat-related illnesses.

¿ Get off on the right foot. Most people probably sweat the most in their shoes, so choose well-ventilated shoes and look for socks that repel perspiration. Foot powders and antiperspirants can also help with sweat.

¿ Dress for the heat. Wear light-weight, light-colored clothing in breathable fabrics such as cotton, or a newer fabric that repels sweat. Add a hat and sunglasses.

¿ Drink up. Before getting started, apply a water-resistant sunscreen with at least SPF 15, and reapply it every two hours. Stay hydrated by drinking a few cups of water before, during and after exercise. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.

¿ Take regular breaks. Find some shade or a cool place, stop for a few minutes, hydrate and start again.

Staying physically active all year long is imperative to good heart health. The American Heart Association reports that physically active people can reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease by nearly 30 percent.

"If you’re used to physical activity, it is possible to be active in the heat, just stay hydrated," Dubeck said. "However, it is not the day to set a personal record. If you’re training for the Boilermaker and you want to train in the heat, then drink a lot of water."

It’s important to know the signs and symptoms when experiencing too much heat.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion:

¿ Headaches

¿ Heavy sweating

¿ Cold, moist skin, chills

¿ Dizziness or fainting (syncope)

¿ A weak and rapid pulse

¿ Muscle cramps

¿ Fast, shallow breathing

¿ Nausea, vomiting or both

Anyone who experiences these symptoms should move to a cooler place, stop exercising and cool down immediately by dousing themselves with cold water and rehydrating. They may need to seek medical attention.

Symptoms of heat stroke:

¿ Warm, dry skin with no sweating

¿ Strong and rapid pulse

¿ Confusion and/or unconsciousness

¿ High fever

¿ Throbbing headaches

¿ Nausea, vomiting or both

Anyone who experiences these symptoms should seek medical attention right away.

For more information, tips and advice on how to take care of the heart, visit www.heart.org.