As the mercury soars and cool water and shade becomes more precious than gold, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association asks consumers to learn the signs of heatstroke, which differ from the signs of stroke.
While heatstroke contains the word stroke and both are potentially life-threatening medical emergencies, stroke and heatstroke are not the same condition. Heatstroke, sometimes called sunstroke, occurs when core body temperature rises to more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit and organs can’t function properly.
A stroke, however, occurs when a blood vessel to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. The disruption of blood and oxygen to the brain causes brain cells to die.
Heatstroke is brought on by external environmental factors, usually being outside or exercising outside on very hot days. Some people may be more susceptible to heatstroke due to age, weight, medical history, or medications they are taking. It’s important to know your individual risk for heatstroke just as you do for stroke.
Certain heart medications like beta blockers, ace receptor blockers, ace inhibitors, calcium channel blockers and diuretics, which deplete the body of sodium, can exaggerate the body’s response to heat.
Heatstroke is life-threatening. If you suspect someone is suffering from heatstroke, you should immediately try to cool them down and call 9-1-1. Take them out of the sun, have them drink a cool, nonalcoholic beverage without caffeine, preferably water, and fan them with cool air.
If someone is exhibiting stroke warning signs, bystanders should call 9-1-1 immediately and let the operator know it may be a stroke.
Stroke patients who arrive at the hospital by ambulance not only have a greater chance of living through the stroke, but also have a greater chance of preserving independence and having a full recovery.
Symptoms of stroke:
· Facial Drooping
· Arm Weakness
· Speech difficulty
· Additional signs of stroke include sudden trouble seeing, dizziness, confusion, severe headache, or weakness on one side of the body.
If any of these signs are present, you should call 9-1-1 immediately. The American Stroke Association teaches the acronym F.A.S.T. for stroke: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1.
Symptoms of heatstroke:
· Body temperature of 104 F or greater
· Lack of sweating. Skin will feel hot and dry, unless heatstroke is cause by exercise.
· Nausea, vomiting or both
· Flushed/red skin
· Rapid, shallow breathing
· Confusion and/or unconsciousness
· Muscle cramps or weakness
· Strong and rapid pulse
Take steps to cool down and get medical attention immediately if someone is experiencing any signs of heatstroke.