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Understanding Heat Strokes: Prevention and Awareness During Hot Summer Months

By: | Tags: , , , , , , | June 20th, 2024

The summer months often bring beautiful weather, days at the pool or beach, and plenty of time spent outdoors. However, they also come with dangerous heat, which contributes to an estimated 1,300 deaths annually in the United States. As temperatures rise, it’s essential to be mindful of heat-related illnesses, particularly heat strokes. Extreme heat can be life-threatening if not promptly recognized and treated. Understanding how they occur, knowing how to avoid them, and recognizing their signs and symptoms can help ensure a safe and enjoyable summer. Additionally, familiarizing yourself with helpful resources like the SAVES and BEFAST tools can be invaluable in emergencies. 

What is a Heat Stroke?

A heat stroke occurs when the body’s temperature regulation system is overwhelmed by excessive heat. It typically happens when the body’s core temperature rises to 104°F (40°C) or higher due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures or strenuous physical activity in the heat. Unlike other heat-related illnesses like heat cramps and heat exhaustion, heat strokes require immediate medical attention.

Causes of Heat Strokes

Heat strokes often result from two primary factors:

  1. Environmental Heat Exposure: Prolonged exposure to high temperatures, especially with high humidity, can impair the body’s ability to cool down through sweating.
  2. Exertional Heat Stroke: Strenuous physical activity in hot weather increases the body’s heat production, which, combined with high external temperatures, can lead to heat stroke.

Preventing Heat Strokes

Prevention is crucial when it comes to heat strokes. Here are some effective strategies to stay safe during hot weather:

  1. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, to help your body maintain a normal temperature. Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, as they can contribute to dehydration.
  2. Wear Appropriate Clothing: Opt for lightweight, loose-fitting, and light-colored clothing. A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses can also help protect against the sun.
  3. Limit Outdoor Activities: Schedule outdoor activities during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or evening. Take frequent breaks in the shade or indoors to cool down.
  4. Use Sunscreen: Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to protect your skin from sunburn, which can hinder your body’s ability to cool down.
  5. Monitor the Heat Index: Pay attention to weather reports and the heat index, which considers both temperature and humidity. Adjust your plans accordingly on particularly hot days.
  6. Never Leave Anyone in a Parked Car: Cars can heat up rapidly, becoming deadly traps for children, pets, and even adults.

Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms

Knowing the signs and symptoms of heat stroke can be life-saving. Key indicators include:

  • High body temperature (104°F or higher)
  • Altered mental state or behavior (confusion, agitation, slurred speech)
  • Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Racing heart rate
  • Headache

Utilizing the SAVES and BEFAST Tools

In addition to heat strokes, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms of strokes, which can occur at any time. Two helpful tools are SAVES and BEFAST:

SAVES: This acronym stands for Speech, Arm weakness, Vision problems, Eyes (unequal pupils), and Severe headache. Recognizing these signs can help identify a stroke quickly.

BEFAST: This stands for Balance, Eyes (blurred vision), Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, and Time to call emergency services. BEFAST is an easy way to remember the most common stroke symptoms and the importance of quick action.

Heat strokes are serious medical emergencies that can be prevented with proper precautions and awareness. Staying hydrated, dressing appropriately, limiting outdoor activities, and knowing the signs and symptoms of heat strokes are crucial during the hot summer months. Additionally, familiarizing yourself with the SAVES and BEFAST tools can enhance your ability to respond to strokes effectively. By taking these steps, you can enjoy a safer and healthier summer season.

Nattasha Acevedo, MD

Dr. Acevedo received her medical degree from the Ponce School of Medicine in Puerto Rico and did her neurology residency at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. She went on to do a clinical neurophysiology fellowship at Emory School of Medicine in Atla nta, Georgia and then joined private practice in Fort Myers, Florida. She currently resides in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She likes running, paddle boarding and spending time with family.

Bernadette Borte, MD

Dr. Borte received her medical degree from St. Matthew’s University School of Medicine in Grand Cayman. She completed her neurology residency at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, Iowa. Her areas of interest include inpatient neurology and acute stroke. When not working, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her family. Dr. Borte joined the TeleSpecialist family in March of 2019.

Mazen Almidani, MD

Dr. Almidani is board certified in pediatrics by the American Board of Pediatrics and board certified in epilepsy, as well as neurology with special  qualification in child neurology by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.  Dr. Almidani is happily married with 4 children. His oldest son has autism and his daughter has complicated seizures; both were a drive for him to become a neurologist. Dr. Almidani enjoys soccer, running and spending time with his family. He is very involved with his sons’ therapy and helping with daily challenges. He is double board certified in Pediatric and Adult Neurology and Epilepsy. He sees children and adults. He also participates in charities for children in Syria who may be underprivileged and/or affected by the war. Dr. Almidani joined TeleSpecialists in August 2020.

Amanda Cheshire, MD

Dr. Cheshire received her medical degree from the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Louisville, Kentucky. She completed her neurology residency at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. She did a fellowship in neurophysiology at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Dr. Cheshire is double board certified in neurology and clinical neurophysiology. She enjoys traveling, reading and music. She currently resides in Viera, Florida.  Dr. Cheshire joined TeleSpecialists in June 2019.

Jessica Floyd, MD

Dr. Floyd completed her neurology residency at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida followed by fellowship training in clinical neurophysiology with focus in EEG and epilepsy at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, South Carolina. She has particular interest in hospital neurology and patient education as well as the blossoming specialty of lifestyle medicine. She strives to take advantage of every encounter with patients and medical staff to empower them to do their own research into how daily thoughts, choices, and habits can add up to create greater and longer-lasting brain and neurologic health for ourselves and our loved ones. She lives in Florence, South Carolina with her awesome husband of 13 plus years and three beautiful children. She is an avid yogi, astrologer, and lover of food and all things neurology! Dr. Floyd joined the TeleSpecialist family in July 2017.

Nancy Futrell, MD

Dr. Futrell received her medical degree from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah. She also did her neurology residency at the University of Utah as well as a research fellowship in cerebral vascular disease at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida. She currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah. She has authored 2 books and 50 peer reviewed papers. 

Rebecca Jimenez-Sanders, MD

Dr. Jimenez Sanders received her undergraduate degree from Emory University, and her medical degree from the San Juan Bautista School of Medicine in Puerto Rico. She completed her neurology residency at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida, where she also did a specialized headache medicine and facial pain fellowship. She currently resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband and her two daughters. She is also fluent in Spanish and Italian languages, and enjoys photography, baking, boating, and biking.

Cory Lamar, MD

Dr. Lamar received his medical degree from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. He completed his internship and residency at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Following residency, he completed a clinical fellowship in neurophysiology, with a concentration in epilepsy. He currently resides in Florida and enjoys outdoor activities.

Clifford Meyers, MD

Dr. Meyers received his medical degree from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island and his MBA from the Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York. He completed his neurology residency at the University of Rochester, where he also did a neurophysiology fellowship. Dr. Meyers resides in Webster, New York with his wife and daughter. When not doing teleneurology, he enjoys playing sports with his wife and daughter.

Tao Tong, MD

Dr. Tong received her medical degree from the University of Miami School of Medicine in Miami, Florida. She completed her neurology residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida, where she also did a neuromuscular/EMG fellowship.  She currently resides in College Station, Texas. Dr. Tong is married with two boys. She enjoys spending time with her family, traveling and reading.

Shubhangi Chumble, MD

Dr. Chumble attended BJ Medical School. She is a board certified neurologist with a subspeciality interest in sleep medicine. Dr. Chumble did her residency at Howard University in Washington DC and has practiced neurology since 2001 in private and corporate settings. She lives in Melbourne, Florida and loves the sunshine state. Her hobbies include yoga, meditation, cooking , traveling and meeting new people. She also loves to do stained glass, pottery and painting. She joined TeleSpecialists in June 2019.