Nashville, TN – 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,” said Rani Whitfield, M.D., family practitioner and American Stroke Association spokesperson.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,” Whitfield said. “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,” Whitfield said. “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,” Whitfield said.
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.
- 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.
About the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association
The American Stroke Association is devoted to saving people from stroke — America’s No. 4 killer and a leading cause of serious disability. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent, treat and beat stroke. The Dallas-based association was created in 1997 as a division of the American Heart Association.
To learn more or to get involved, call 1.888.4STROKE or visit www.strokeassociation.org