These Health Risks Can Increase On Hot Days

These Health Risks Can Increase On Hot Days

Hotter temperatures and summer go hand in hand. The heat should not come as a surprise to you during the summer. The heat may do more than make you sweat, though. Researchers note that rising temperatures increase certain health risks

A 2022 study of more than 219 million American adults over the age of 20 suggested a link between extreme heat and all-cause mortality. The most significant risks were associated with older individuals. Health experts note that everyone, regardless of age, should understand the health risks that come with extreme heat. That is especially true because there are a lot of outdoor activities that occur during summer. It’s easy to get distracted on a beach day, for example, and that can be a detriment to your health if you aren’t paying attention to bodily signals. 

Being aware of how extreme heat affects the body can help you take proper precautions. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) states that 2023 was the warmest year on record. Early indications suggest that 2024 will follow suit, so be prepared and do your best to stay cool during these summer months. 

Health Risks That Increase With Hotter Weather

Specific populations are at a higher risk of experiencing health issues when temperatures rise. That said, nobody is immune to heat-related health issues. Understanding the signs can help you protect yourself (and others) from severe outcomes resulting from heat exposure. The populations at a higher risk include:

  • Older adults, especially people with underlying health conditions
  • Infants and young children because their bodies cannot regulate temperature as well
  • Pregnant people
  • People with chronic health issues

Heart Attack

According to research published in 2023, cardiovascular disease deaths caused by heat could surge by approximately 162% by 2036-2065. Another study from 2023 examined more than 202,000 heart attacks in Jiangsu, China. Study authors noticed a strong correlation between a person’s chances of dying from heart attack and extremely hot and cold temperatures. When the body is exposed to heat, especially temperatures higher than body temperature, the heart has to work a lot harder. It needs to circulate the blood out toward the skin to allow for sweating and other mechanisms that protect the body from heat. The harder the heart has to work, the greater the risk of heart problems in those at risk. 

Heatstroke

Although it seems obvious that heat increases the risk of heatstroke, a lot of people do not understand the symptoms or risk. Heatstroke, much like stroke, is a medical emergency. Signs of heatstroke include confusion, altered behavior, change in speech, or even seizure. Heatstroke differs from heat exhaustion, although the two are related. Heat exhaustion is the body’s warning sign that it is overheating. You may experience headache, dizziness, nausea, etc. You should slow down and rehydrate with fluids and electrolytes and seek shade if you experience these symptoms. Refrain from consuming caffeine and alcohol in the heat because they can dehydrate the body.

Higher Or Lower Blood Pressure

Hot weather can cause blood pressure to become too high or too low. When you sweat a lot, the body loses fluids and blood volume, the decrease of which can drop blood pressure. This issue becomes more pronounced when you change positions, such as standing up after lying down. Dehydration also puts undue strain on the kidneys, which can decrease blood pressure. On the other side of the coin, heat can elevate blood pressure because the body has to work harder to circulate blood in order to cool down. Although high blood pressure can be asymptomatic, it may trigger dizziness or headaches. 

Migraine Attacks

Speaking of dizziness and headaches, let’s talk about migraines. Data indicates that migraine attacks affect 12 to 15% of the general population, and the effects can be debilitating. Migraines can cause irritability, light sensitivity, dizziness, nausea, cravings, and seeing of odd shapes. According to recent research, hotter temperatures may increase the risk of a migraine attack. Heat can increase inflammatory effects that can prolong migraines. Plus, dehydration can decrease the body’s ability to fight a migraine. 

Stroke

A study from 2020 found that weather conditions, especially high heat, are becoming a factor for the risk of stroke. There may be a lag period of one to six days between extreme weather exposure and stroke. Another study from 2020, which has yet to be published in a scientific journal, found that stroke severity increased by more than 67% for every 9ºF uptick in average temperature over the course of three days. Extreme heat puts stress on the body, especially in the elderly, which can lead to an increased risk of stroke. Look out for vision changes, facial droop, slurred speech, and weakness of arms or legs (especially on one side).

2024-07-02T10:07:06-07:00
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