As summer temperatures across the United States begin to soar, Phoenix vascular surgeon Mitchell Giangobbe, MD is offering his advice to older adults on surviving extreme hot weather and avoiding a trip to the emergency room for heat exposure.
“Those over 65 years old are two times more likely to be hospitalized for heat stroke or exhaustion during a heat wave,” Dr. Giangobbe notes. The human body is less able to sense and respond appropriately to high temperatures as it ages. Seniors, especially those with chronic medical conditions like diabetes, breathing, heart, or kidney disease are most at risk during a heat wave. Many of the medications used to treat those conditions often worsen the effects of heat exposure by impairing the ability to regulate temperature or perspire.
The best defense against heat exhaustion and heat stroke is preventing them in the first place. Dr. Giangobbe points out there are several things older adults can do to minimize the risks of extreme high temperatures:
• Limit outdoor activity, especially from midday on when the sun is its strongest.
• If outdoors, stay in the shade and out of direct sunlight. Always apply sunscreen.
• Drink more water than usual and more frequently. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
• Wear light, breathable, loose fitting clothes.
• Close any windows, shutters, and drapes facing the sun during the day. Turn off lights and electrical devices as possible.
• Move to the coolest room in the home and turn on the air conditioning.
• If it’s not possible to keep cool at home, spend the hottest part of the day in a an air conditioned public building like a shopping mall, senior center, or library.
Severe heat exposure can be fatal. Up to 10 percent of people who experience heat stroke die. “If you feel weak or light headed, stop what you are doing, get out of the sun and go to a cool place,” Giangobbe says. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include dehydration, nausea, headache, cramps, and excessive sweating. “You can first try drinking water, cooling down with a damp cloth, and sitting near a fan,” he advises, “but don’t hesitate to call 911 if you suspect heat stroke.” High body temperature (over 103ºF), rapid heart rate, shallow breathing, confusion and seizures are all reasons to seek immediate medical assistance. His final advice “During a heat wave check on older family members, neighbors, and friends to make sure they’re coping well.”
About Dr. Giangobbe
Mitchell Giangobbe, MD RVT FACS is a board certified general and vascular surgeon who practices in Sun City West, AZ. He specializes in treatment of venous and lymphatic diseases including varicose vein treatment, lymphedema, and wound care.
Release ID: 120668