American Heart Association Says Play It Safe This Summer

July 15, 2013

In this sweltering heat this week, the American Heart Association warns to heed some simple safety suggestions as temperatures continue rise.

The key is to remember that whether you are swimming, biking, jogging or just taking a leisurely stroll, summer’s sweltering heat can leave you dehydrated, increasing the risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

The risk of dehydration increases when the humidity is above 70 percent and the temperature is greater than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat and humidity interfere with the body’s natural cooling process. The heart is trying to deliver blood and oxygen to your working muscles at the same time your body is trying to cool off by sweating. If you sweat too much, you lose important body fluids. The heart then has to pump even harder to get the smaller volume of blood distributed to your working muscles, skin and the other body parts. Extreme fluid loss can lead to brain and heart damage.

Here are some tips to keep your family physically active in the warmer months:

· Hydrate! Drink plenty of water before, during and after physical activity to avoid dehydration. People who are active for periods longer than 30 minutes should drink six to eight ounces of water (about a cup) every 10 to 15 minutes. For low-calorie flavor, add slices of your favorite fruits such as melon, oranges, berries or even cucumber or mint to a pitcher of water and refrigerate for two hours.

· A good way to monitor your body fluid level is to weigh yourself every morning. If your weight is two or more pounds lower than usual in the morning, you may be dehydrated and need to drink more water before doing any vigorous physical activity. Remember, you may have lost weight as water, but not as fat.

· Protect your family from the sun: wear wide-brimmed hats, always apply water-resistant sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and reapply sunscreen every 2 hours.

· Heat safety: avoid intense activities between noon and 3 p.m. when the sun is at its strongest. Work out in the cooler part of the day such as early morning or late evening. If you’re exercising in the heat and begin to feel dizzy, nauseated, thirsty, or if you develop a headache, stop and find a cooler place to sit down and drink some water.

· Dress for the heat: wear lightweight, light colored clothing, choose light, breathable fabrics such as cotton, and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.

· Head indoors: when the heat gets unbearable, try indoor activities at your local YMCA or rec center like basketball, swimming, yoga or racquetball.

It is important to recognize the symptoms of heat exhaustion such as sweating; cold, clammy skin; dizziness; a rapid pulse; throbbing pressure in your head; chills; flushed appearance; and nausea.

Symptoms of heat stroke are warm, dry skin with no sweating or heavy sweating; cold, clammy skin; low blood pressure; confusion; and/or unconsciousness. High fever, a slow pulse and ashen or gray skin are other telltale signs.

The American Heart Association urges people to seek medical help if symptoms continue. Heat exhaustion can progress quickly to heat stroke, a potentially fatal condition.

For more information about year-round safe physical activities, contact the American Heart Association at 1-800-AHA-USA1 (1-800-242-8721) or visit www.heart.org

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