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CornerStone Vol. 26, No.1, Spring/Summer 2016
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Front page...

A Second Miracle for Allison
Revolutionary Heart Procedure Provides New Treatment for Sufferers of Aortic Valve Stenosis
WATCHMAN: A New Treatment Option for Patients with Atrial Fibrillation
Lifesaving Procedure and Wedding Bells for Patient with Rare Heart Condition
New, State-of-the-Art Trauma Center Opens
Committed to the Fight against Obesity
Empowered to Educate: Women with Heart Disease Fight Back
American Heart Association Awards Grant-in-Aid to Winthrop Researchers
Diabetes Prevention Program: Motivating Local Residents to Change Their Lives
24th Annual Gala Raises More than $1,000,000
Celebrating Service and Philanthropy: Special Room Dedication Held for Esteemed Physician
Getting into the Spirit at Winthrop’s Cancer Center for Kids
Annual Golf Outing Benefits the CCFK
Bo Jackson Brings Special Memories
Gregg’s Wings Foundation Continues Support
CCFK Patients Rock at Seventh Annual Rock2Beat Pediatric Cancer
Local Kiwanis Club Continues Longtime Support
CCFK Crosses the Finish Line
A Cause to Celebrate Raises Nearly $115,000 for Child Life Program
Good for the Brain: Unique Art Expressions Group Brings Patients and Caregivers Together
A Family Tradition of Philanthropy
Unique Toilet Training Program Helps Youngsters ‘Go’
New Mural Brightens Walls and Lifts Spirits
New Chiropractic Collaboration Provides Coordinated Care for Patients
Winthrop Nurses Earn Prestigious Magnet Recognition
New Member Elected to Winthrop’s Board of Directors
New Electronic Medical Record Set to Go Live This Summer
Raising the Bar for Care with National Recognitions
Yuletide Ball Raises $207,000 for Child Life Program
A Bite of Hope for Pediatric Diabetes Patients
Celebrating a 23-Year Partnership
Amanda Styles Cirelli Foundation Supports Winthrop’s Cancer Center for Kids
Floreine J. Winthrop’s Memory Honored with Tranquil Garden
Senator Martins Spreads Cheer Among Young Patients
Preventing Heat-Related Illness
Winthrop Researchers Advocate for 9/11 First Responders Suffering from Debilitating Neurological Condition
A Special Evening of Tasting and Giving Supports Pediatric Patients
 

Preventing Heat-Related Illness

 

by Barry M. Rosenthal, MD, MPH, Chairman, Department of Emergency Medicine

As we enter the summer season, it is impor- tant to be mindful of the potential for heat-related illness. Although preventable, many heat-related illnesses, including deaths, occur annually. Older adults, infants and children, and individuals with chronic med- ical conditions are particularly susceptible. However, even young and healthy individu- als can succumb to the heat if one does not take appropriate precautions.

Heat-related illness occurs when the body is unable to compensate for the heat and properly cool itself. Normally the body cools by sweating. Under some conditions, such as high humidity, sweat does not evap- orate as quickly as normal, preventing the body from adequately releasing heat. In such cases, body temperature can rise rapidly. Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs.

Heat exposure can cause a spectrum of illness including:

  • Heat rash (“prickly heat”)
  • Heat cramps
  • Heat edema (swelling) of the feet or hands
  • Heat syncope (fainting)
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heat stroke – this is a medical emergency. Even with immediate treatment, it can be life threatening or cause serious long-term problems. Call 911!

The best defense against heat-related illness is prevention. Staying cool, drinking plenty of fluids, wearing cool clothing and monitoring outdoor activities are keys to staying healthy in hot weather. Following are some prevention tips:

  • Seek a cooler place.
    Being in an air- conditioned building, even for just a few hours, is one of the best ways to prevent heat-related illness. If your home doesn’t have an air conditioner, consider spend- ing time at a library or shopping mall.
  • Avoid hot spots.
    On a hot day, the temperature in your parked car can rise 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. Let your car cool off before you drive it. Never leave children, the elderly, or anyone else in a parked car in hot weather (including pets).
  • Wear loose fitting, lightweight, light- colored clothing.
    Heavy, dark or tight clothing holds in heat, and inhibits sweat evaporation, which results in inadequate body cooling. Do not dress infants in heavy clothing or wrap them in blankets.
  • Avoid sunburn.
    If you’re going to be outdoors, protect yourself from direct sun exposure with a hat or umbrella, and apply sunscreen to any exposed skin. Use at minimum SPF15 with UVA/UVB protection (the most effec- tive products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels).
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
    Staying hydrated will help your body sweat and maintain a normal body temperature. Don't wait until you’re thirsty to drink. During heavy exercise in a hot environment, drink two to four glasses (16-32 ounces) of cool fluids each hour. If your doctor has told you to limit fluids because of a health condition, be sure to check with him or her about how much extra you need to drink when the temperature rises. Avoid alcoholic beverages, as well as those with caffeine or high sugar content.
  • Take extra precautions with certain medications.
    Ask your doctor or phar- macist whether the medications you take make you more susceptible to heat exhaustion and, if so, what you can do to keep your body from overheating. In particular, diuretics (“water pills”) may be problematic.
  • Stay informed.
    Listen to local news and weather channels or contact your local public health department during extreme heat conditions for health and safety updates.
  • Check on those who may need help.
    Your elderly loved ones or neighbors may need help. Remember, the elderly are particularly susceptible to heat- related illness.
  • Plan times of outdoor activity.
    If possible, plan strenuous outdoor activity and exercise for early morning or late evening when the temperature is lower.
  • Be aware of signs and symptoms.
    At first signs of heat illness – dizziness, nausea, headaches, muscle cramps – move to a cooler place, rest a few min- utes, then slowly drink a cool beverage. Seek medical attention immediately if conditions do not improve.

Summer is a time to enjoy the sun and warm temperatures, but in the event of a heat-related illness, have full confidence that Winthrop’s Emergency Department is here for you!