The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH)

How to handle heat exhaustion, heatstroke

- Contact Dr. Roach at ToYourGood­Health@med.


What is heatstroke? I exercised a lot in the heat yesterday, and today I feel dizzy and nauseated, even though it isn’t as hot as yesterday.

— L.C.


Heatstroke and heat exhaustion have similar names but are different conditions. People who exercise in conditions of high heat and humidity are at risk for heat exhaustion. Symptoms include profuse sweating, dizziness, nausea, muscle cramps and headache. Treatment is to stop exercising, get someplace cool and sip some fluids. Without treatment, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke, although you don’t need to exercise to get heatstroke.

The hallmark of heatstroke is a very high body temperatur­e: 103 F (39.4 C). There may not be any sweating at all, and the skin is hot and red. Confusion is a dangerous symptom.

Heatstroke is a medical emergency: call 911. In the emergency room or hospital, we find the fastest way of cooling someone down is room-temperatur­e or warm water sprayed all over a person’s body (no clothes) with immense fans blowing on the moist skin. Immersing a person in cold water is not as effective. The warm water keeps a high degree of blood flow to the skin, allowing the body to cool rapidly. Ice cold water constricts blood vessels, which makes heat transfer less effective. Fluids need to be individual­ized based on careful patient monitoring.

DEAR DR. ROACH >> I’m 62 with a family history of coronary artery disease. I have mildly high LDL cholestero­l level, and my 10year risk of heart disease is 26% considerin­g my treated high blood pressure. I was on Crestor, but I read that it can increase the risk of diabetes. I changed to Lipitor, but then read that lipophilic statins increase dementia risk (which runs in my family). Pravastati­n is the only hydrophili­c statin left — should I switch to that?

— M.S.

DEAR READER >> With your high risk of developing a heart attack or stroke, treatment with a statin is clearly indicated. This should be in addition to lifestyle changes, which are not often enough emphasized. Dietary changes and regular moderate exercise have large benefits in preventing heart disease, in addition to many other benefits.

All statins increase the risk of developing diabetes. The relative risk is estimated to be about 10%.

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