It seems like everyone is looking to make the most of the summer sun, but when the mercury rises, so do the number of E.R. visits.
Dr. Jeff Anderson is an emergency room physician at the Avera Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls. Dr. Anderson says during the summer months not only are you more likely to get a sun burn, but the intense heat can have a big impact on your heart.
"We all keep our bodies cool be evaporative cooling, the body shifts its blood flow to the skin, the skin is actually the largest organ in the body, the heart has to work harder when it's pumping more blood to the skin to try and cool us." Said Dr. Anderson.
While the heat affects everyone differently Dr. Anderson says the ones who are most susceptible to increased cardiac stress are the very old and very young. Those with pre-existing heart problems could also feel a little bit more challenged when the temperatures climb toward the triple digits. Not only because of their weakened 'ticker' but their medications as well.
"Sometimes with heart medications they function to actually slow the beat of the heart and it can hinder the body's ability to cool." Said Dr. Anderson.
The first step to beat the heat is awareness review your medical history and be sure to listen to what your body is telling you.
"Excessive sweating can be a warning sign, an increased heart rate, a feeling of faintness, and of course the usual signs of cardiac difficulties like shortness of breath and chest pain." Said Dr. Anderson.
Dr. Anderson says the biggest factor is responding quickly and early, that way most of the symptoms and problems are treatable. When it's hot outside it's very easy to get behind on your fluids and dehydration can set in quickly. Dr. Anderson says especially during these summer months it's important to have a water bottle and a plan.
"Maybe not plan outdoor activities during the hottest part of the day, make sure you make allowances and take precautions by having extra fluids available, or having a cool place you can go to get out of that direct sunlight." Said Dr. Anderson.
When the sun is out, it's very hard to stay inside especially with summer attractions like Jazzfest and Lifelight. While you may have to limit your time at these festivals, it's better to be safe than sorry.
"You have to be careful about all these outdoor events and maybe use a little common sense and maybe not stay there the whole day like you used to 20 years ago, but I'm still going to enjoy myself and use precautions, just not stay all day." Said Dr. Anderson.
Hot Harley Nights may have just ended but there are still plenty of hot nights left this summer. So listen to your body and especially your heart so you don't end up with a visit to Dr. Anderson in the E.R.
"the high heat, high humidity, heart disease, hot dogs, hallucinogenic drugs, is just a recipe for disaster." Said Dr. Anderson.
Another helpful pointer when trying to beat the heat is to avoid having too many drinks with caffeine or alcohol. While you may be increasing fluids, those drinks actually dehydrate you faster.