Heat Illness and Older Adults

Uploaded by AZDHS on 18.10.2012

Hello, I'm Dr. Cara Christ and
I m the Chief Medical Officer Officer
of the Division of Public Health with
the Arizona Department of Health Services.
The summer is upon us and I want to take some time
to discuss a serious issue:Heat-related illness.
Did you know that the number one weather-related
cause of death in the US is heat related illness?
From 1992 to 2009, almost 1,500 deaths
were caused by heat related illness,
that s more than hurricanes, lightning,
tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined.
But the summer does not have to be dangerous
if we take the necessary precautions to
protect ourselves and our loved ones.
This video will discuss heat safety by
defining heat illness the types of
heat illness including the signs and symptoms,
people who are more at risk,
why older adults are susceptible,
and ways to prevent heat illness.
So, let us start off by defining what heat illness is.
Heat illness occurs when the body becomes too hot and
is no longer able to regulate its own temperature,
leading to different types of heat-related illnesses.
The three stages of heat illness are
heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
While all of these are serious conditions,
they can be easily prevented by watching out for
the most common signs and symptoms of heat related illness.
The first indicators of heat illness are
thirst, headache, and tiredness.
Each stage has specific signs and symptoms.
You may not experience every sign or
symptom during a heat related illness.
The first stage of heat illness is heat cramps,
which may be caused by strenuous activity.
Heat cramps usually affect the abdomen, arms, or legs,
and may feel a lot like muscle pains or spasms.
The best way to treat heat cramps is to drink water.
Alcohol, caffeinated beverages, and
high sugar drinks should be avoided.
If you experience heat cramps, immediately stop all activity,
drink water, and rest in an air conditioned or shaded area.
The second stage of heat-related illness is heat exhaustion.
Someone experiencing heat exhaustion may
have some of the following symptoms
:cramps; feeling tired, weak or dizzy;
nausea or vomiting, excessive sweating; or pale skin.
If you notice someone showing signs of heat exhaustion,
immediately take them to an air conditioned area.
Make sure they drink water,
and if possible have them take a cool shower or bath.
Help them remove restrictive or
additional layers of clothing.
The most dangerous and life threatening
stage of heat-related illness is heat stroke.
Look out for these signs and symptoms
:red, hot, dry skin, decreased alertness,
confusion, vomiting, and lack of sweating.
If you suspect someone is experiencing heat stroke,
immediately call 911.
While someone is calling 911,
take whatever means possible to rapidly cool the person.
This can be done best by moving to an air conditioned
room and applying cold water to
large areas of the skin or clothing.
If this is not possible, move to a cool, shady area,
remove restrictive or additional layers of clothing;
wipe their face, neck, arms, and legs with wet rags.
Only if the person is alert, you can put them in
a cool shower and give small sips of water.
It is important to remember that heat related illness
can become deadly if not recognized and treated properly.
Using a fan can make heat illness worse,
especially when temperatures are above 90 degrees.
If you are feeling any heat-related symptoms or
if there is a heat warning or alert,
please don t hesitate to use the air conditioning to stay cool!
Let a friend or family member know if
you are having trouble because of the heat.
Ask them to check on you until you are feeling better.
Your health and safety are very important!
At this point, you might be thinking
Well, how does this affect me?
The truth is, anyone can be affected by extreme heat,
even the healthiest, most active people.
Although we are all at risk, some people are more
vulnerable to heat related illnesses than others.
Infants and children, people with chronic medical conditions
such as diabetes, heart or lung disease,
outdoor workers, athletes, and adults over the age
of 65 are most prone to heat related illness.
There are also several characteristics or behaviors
that may increase the chance of a heat-related illness,
including increased age, obesity, chronic conditions,
dehydration, alcohol consumption and certain medications.
We mentioned that older ages increase
the chance for heat-related illness.
Due to changes in their bodies, older adults typically
take longer to realize they are too hot,
and may have a decreased ability to adapt to the heat,
but there are other factors that put
older adults at risk for heat illness.
Typically older adults do not adjust as well as when they
were younger to sudden changes in temperature.
They are more likely to have a chronic medical condition
such as diseases of the heart, blood vessels or
thyroid that affects normal body responses to heat.
Older adults are also more likely to take prescription medicines
that weaken their body s ability to control
its temperature or that hinder perspiration.
Finally, older adults may be more likely to be living alone or
depend on others for assistance,
and may go unnoticed when experiencing extreme heat illness.
Certain medications can be deadly during a hot day,
and can actually make heat-related illness worse.
It s important to be aware of what medications you take
and how these medications may affect your
ability to respond to the heat.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about how your
medications can put you at risk in the heat
Antidepressants, diuretics, sleep aids, Parkinson s drugs
and medicine for high blood pressure
are known to be affected by heat.
Again, make sure to ask your doctor if any
of your prescription medicine
can adversely affect your health during the summer months.
So, I think we have shown you that heat illness can be a real problem.
It can affect anyone, but it doesn t have to affect
you or your loved ones if you take steps to
be prepared and prevent heat illness.
Prevention is critical when it comes to heat illness.
Following as many of these safety tips as
you can will keep you safe in the heat.
Make sure you drink 8-10 ounces of water every 15 minutes
before, during, and after outdoor activities.
Always remember to drink before you are thirsty to prevent dehydration.
Taking a cool shower or wiping your forehead with
a damp cloth can help to prevent heat illness,
So can wearing light weight, light colored clothing.
A buddy system where friends or family members check
on each other is a great way to make sure
that the signs of heat related illness are noticed early.
Remember to stay inside during the sunniest or hottest
parts of the day,and plan activities that take place
in air-conditioned areas, such as community centers,
shopping malls, coffee shops, gyms and libraries.
For those who may have trouble paying the electricity bill,
Arizona has a program called the
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
If you are having trouble finding places to get out of the heat,
you can check www.azdhs.gov
for a list of cooling centers in your area.
Before we go, I d like to share a word from Will Humble,
the Director of the Arizona Department of Health services.
The heat in our southern deserts isn t just a nuisance, it s lethal,
but you don t need to be afraid of the summer heat, just respect it.
By taking simple precautions you can still get out, exercise,
be physically active and enjoy the beautiful Arizona outdoors.
I hope that we have provided you with some useful information
so you can enjoy your summer without experiencing heat illness.
Remember to stay hydrated, stay cool, and stay informed.
If you would like more information please contact the
Office of Environmental Health or visit www.azdhs.gov
I m Dr. Cara Christ, Thank you.
Remember to stay hydrated, stay cool, and stay informed.