Wellness Words June 2017

Wellness Words June 2017

HealthLink Littauer’sCarol Tomlinson-Head


Submitted by Carol Tomlinson, RN BS

Community Health Educator


Protect Your Heart In The Heat

Whatever brings you outside this summer, it’s important to stay safe and healthy as the heat rises. According to the American Heart Association, heat can be hard on your heart. If you are a heart patient older than 55, overweight, have high blood pressure, or are on certain medications, you may need to take special precautions in the heat.

Certain medications such as beta blockers, ace inhibitors, calcium channel blockers and diuretics can exaggerate the body’s response to the heat. Even if you are not on medications, seniors need to take extra precautions in the heat. When the temperature rises, getting enough to drink is important even if you are just sitting outside…and it is critical to heart health.

Staying hydrated helps the heart more easily pump blood through vessels to the muscles. This helps the muscles work more efficiently. Remember, if you are well hydrated your heart doesn’t have to work as hard. Dehydration (lack of bodily fluids) can lead to problems ranging from swollen feet and ankles to headaches, and even life threatening illness such as heat stroke.

A common misconception is that thirst is your best indicator that you need to drink. According to a study at the Mayo Clinic, if you are thirsty – you are already dehydrated. M. Batson, MD of this study says, “Drinking water before you go out in the heat is an important first step. Otherwise you are playing catch-up and your heart is straining to keep up.” It is also best to avoid drinks containing caffeine which is a known diuretic that can cause you to lose fluids.

Think you’re ready to brave the heat? It is best to avoid the outdoors between 12-3 p.m. when the sun is usually the strongest. This time of day is the most likely to put you at risk for heat related illness.

Remember to:

  • Dress for the heat with lightweight, light-colored clothing in breathable fabrics.
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses.
  • Choose well ventilated shoes and socks that repel perspiration.
  • Take regular breaks in some shade or go inside.

Whatever you decide to do in the heat, keep in mind these symptoms of serious heat related illnesses.

  • Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion:
    • Headaches
    • Heavy sweating
    • Cold, moist skin, chills
    • Dizziness or fainting
    • A weak or rapid pulse
    • Muscle cramps
    • Fast, shallow breathing
    • Nausea, vomiting or both

If you experience these symptoms, move to a cooler place and cool down as soon as possible by dousing yourself with cool water and rehydrating.

  • Symptoms of Heat Stroke:
    • Warm, dry skin
    • Strong, rapid pulse
    • Confusion and/or unconsciousness
    • High fever
    • Throbbing headache
    • Nausea and/or vomiting

If you experience these symptoms seek medical attention immediately!

For more information, visit heart.org or mayoclinic.org, or call HealthLink Littauer at 518-736-1120. You can e-mail us at healthlink@nlh.org, see our website at nlh.org, or visit our wellness center at 2 Colonial Court in downtown Johnstown, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.

Wellness Words August 2011

HealthLink Littauer’s


Submitted by Ryan Wille, B.S.

Community Health Educator



The summer months are filled with hot days that can put individuals at risk of developing heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Heat-related illnesses occur when the body can not keep itself cool. As the air temperature rises, the human body stays cool when sweat evaporates. However, the evaporation of sweat is slowed down by increased moisture in the air on hot and humid days. When sweating isn’t enough to keep the body cool, the body temperature rises and individuals may become ill.

Heat exhaustion occurs when the body gets too hot. It can be caused by physical exercise or hot weather. If an individual has heat exhaustion, they may experience:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Feeling weak and/or confused
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Dark-colored urine, which is an indicator of dehydration

If you think you have heat exhaustion, you should get out of the heat quickly. Rest in a building with air-conditioning or find a cool and shady place. Drink plenty of water and other fluids. Do not drink alcohol or caffeinated drinks, because they can make heat exhaustion worse. Take a cool shower or bath and remove any tight or unnecessary clothing. If you don’t feel well in 30 minutes, contact a doctor. If heat exhaustion is not treated, it can progress to heatstroke.

Heat stroke is an abnormally elevated body temperature with accompanying physical symptoms including changes in the nervous system function. Heat stroke is a true medical emergency that is often fatal if not treated correctly. Infants, the elderly, athletes and those who physically exert themselves outside under the sun, are at the highest risk of heat stroke.

Symptoms of heat stroke can sometimes mimic those of heart attacks. Sometimes a person experiences symptoms of heat exhaustion before it progresses to heat stroke. Common symptoms and signs of heat stroke include:

  • High body temperature
  • Absence of sweating, with red or flushed dry skin
  • Rapid pulse
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Strange behavior
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Disorientation
  • Seizure
  • Coma

If you think someone might have heatstroke, call emergency medical personnel immediately! While waiting, take the person into an air-conditioned building or a cool, shady place. Remove unnecessary clothing to cool them down. Try to fan air over the person while wetting their skin with water. Appling ice packs to the person’s armpits, groin, neck and back can also help them cool down.

The best way to prevent heat illness is to stay in air-conditioned areas as much as possible on hot days. If you must go outside, here are several precautions to take to keep you safe:

  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Protect yourself from the sun with hats or umbrellas.
  • Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or more.
  • Drink plenty of water before starting an outdoor activity and continue to drink extra water throughout the day.
  • Drink fewer beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol.
  • Schedule activities before 10:00 a.m. and after 6:00 p.m. when the sun isn’t as strong.
  • During outdoor activities, take frequent breaks. Drink water or other fluids every 15 to 20 minutes.
  • If you have a chronic medical problem, ask your doctor how to deal with the heat, especially how your medications relate to heat.

For more information, visit www.FamilyDoctor.org, contact your health care provider or HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120. You can e-mail us at healthlink@nlh.org, see our website at nlh.org, or visit our wellness center at 213 Harrison Street Ext. in Johnstown, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.