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article image'Different Kind of Heat' in U.S. Can Cause Health Problems Special

By Carol Forsloff     Jun 24, 2009 in Health
Serious heat can cause problems for seniors and those who are medically compromised. As temperatures soar through the South and mid-Atlantic states, people need to know precautions.
Hardly anyone is out walking around in Natchitoches, Louisiana since the heat index is now 110+. The temperature gauge was 101 and climbing at 1 p.m., and the humidity over 80. Even short drives to the store are difficult. For seniors and others heat like this can be serious, even deadly.
Diabetics are warned to avoid extreme temperatures, and stay inside in air-conditioned areas when the heat index is high. There are, however, seniors in places like Natchitoches, Louisiana who don’t have, or can’t afford, air conditioning. Hot temperatures are particularly stressful for the elderly, as the South is now experiencing. When Southerners say it’s hot, then it really is, since June typically brings hot days.
But this is different, and many people say it is. Dora Benson, an African American woman, and 93 years old, who lives in Natchitoches declared the weather different than what she remembered growing up. She said, “It’s hot, but it seems a whole lot hotter.” Those around in the small cafe called Magnolia agreed, there is something different this year. No one could say exactly what that might be, but the heat of the South is gripping even for long-term residents.
Given the risks associated with global warming, some health experts maintain that if indeed the warming trend continues, we might see an increase in heart disease as a result. Experts at the Department of Cardiology in Sweden underline the fact statistics show people have more heart problems when it's hot.
Dr. Karin Schenk-Gustafsson (Dept. of Cardiology, Karolinska Institute, Sweden) told AP Medical Writer Maria Cheng during an interview, "If it really is a few degrees warmer in the next 50 years, we could definitely have more cardiovascular disease."
Other people at risk for complications from extreme heat are lupus victims. Reportedly 1 in 750 are affected with this disease and have to stay out of the sun as a consequence.
The Centers for Disease Control declare the importance of taking precautions during periods of extreme heat. This organization stresses particularly the importance of at-risk like the elderly taking precautions. One should be especially cautious when taking certain psychotropic or tranquilizer medications, and medicines should be evaluated for problems that may arise when conditions are hot.
Not just the South but the interior of the country is now experiencing a heat wave, so it’s important to know the precautions about these types of conditions and to take them seriously if you are a senior.
More about Heat index, Diabetes precautions, Health precautions for
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