Heart Patients Beware of Summer

Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee
President, Heart Care Foundation of India

Dehydration can precipitate heart attack in susceptible individuals. The normal fluid requirement is 30 ml per kg weight, but the same needs to be increased in the summer because of the loss of fluid from sweating. Apart from water, Sodium or salt is also lost. A person, therefore, needs to take more fruits intake during summer period.

Not passing urine in eight hours, dry armpits, feeling exhausted or feeling week are suggestive of underlying dehydration. Dehydration can make the blood thick and precipitate heart attack in patients with uncontrolled blood pressure or diabetes.

Walking is a necessity for heart patients and the same should be continued even during peak summer but the timing should be so chosen that peak heat periods are avoided. One can walk early in the morning or late in the evening. People taking anti-allergic pills should take special precautions as they are more likely to get heat stroke.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency leading to charring of organs because of extreme internal heat. A person’s temperature may be more than 105°F.

Preventing Summer Disorders

The most common summer disorders are dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke on one hand and acidity, infections, diarrhea, cholera, typhoid and jaundice on the other hand.

Heat cramps, exhaustion and stroke all result from prolonged exposure to heat but differ in the severity of the illness. Heat cramp is a milder form of illness where a person ends up with weakness, dehydration, and salt deficiency. The treatment, is replacing fluid and salt orally.

Heat exhaustion, on the other hand, is a relatively serious condition with fever, dehydration, weakness but presence of sweating. If not diagnosed and treated in time with rapid fluid replacement, heat exhaustion can end–up into heat stroke where the body’s thermoregulatory mechanisms fail leading to a sudden rise in internal temperature and charring of organs and ultimate death.

Heat stroke, therefore, is a medical emergency and requires bringing down of temperature within minutes. Absence of sweating, dry armpit, non-passing of urine for eight hours or presence of high grade fever in summer season should not be ignored and medical attention taken immediately.

Diarrhea, Cholera, Typhoid and Jaundice are all food and water-born diseases due to poor hygiene and shortage of water supply in the community. All of them can become serious if not attended in time. Of these diarrhea and cholera are infections of the small intestine and require replacing with lemon water mixed with sugar and salt. The deficiency of fluid may be upto 6 to 8 liters. A person needs to be hospitalized only if the loose motions are more than 12 in number. For prevention of these diseases, one needs to follow the principle – Heat it, Boil it, Cook it, Peel it or Forget it.