All posts by Sonia Thalman

Heatstroke and Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Heatstroke is no joke. Despite the fact that all heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that about 658 people succumb to extreme heat each year. 

Sudden death — or sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) — can be brought on by a number of different causes including congenital heart defects, cardiac arrhythmia, commotio cordis, hypovolemic shock, and even electrolyte imbalances brought on by hyperthermia (heat stroke). 

Since we’re knee-deep in summer, we thought it was a good time to talk about heatstroke, its connection to SCA, and how to avoid it.

What Causes Heatstroke?

Heat-related illnesses are caused by exposure to too much sunlight and heat. When your body can’t cool itself adequately, you may start to feel over-hot, headachy, clammy, heavy, tired, dizzy, and nauseated. Your heart rate may increase as well. If this happens, it’s time to stop whatever it is you’re doing and find some water, shade, or air conditioning! 

Exposure to excessive heat can directly or indirectly cause some illnesses, and can certainly exacerbate preexisting conditions, such as heart and respiratory disease.

How Can You Prevent Heatstroke and Heat-Related Illnesses?

The CDC notes that “People at greatest risk for heat-related illness include infants and children up to 4 years old; people 65 years of age and older; people who are overweight or have existing medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease; people who are socially isolated; and the poor.” 

However, even young and seemingly healthy individuals can suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke if they’re engaging in strenuous physical activities during hot weather. Drinking alcohol, taking certain medications, or excessive exposure can put people at an even greater risk. 

Basically, anything that causes dehydration and inhibits perspiration or otherwise impairs your body’s ability to regulate its internal temperature can put you at risk of heatstroke. 

Here’s what you can do to stay cool:

  • Stay loose: Wear comfortable, lightweight, and light-colored clothing.
  • Put a lid on it: Protect your brain! Wear a hat or invest in a reflective umbrella.
  • Avoidance is okay: When the temperatures start to soar, stay out of the sunshine.
  • Exercise early: If you need to get a move on — and everyone should aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity each week — do it before 9:00 am or after 4:00 pm.
  • Drink up: If you are exercising in the heat, drink plenty of electrolyte-enriched water and take frequent breaks.
  • Get acclimated: If you work outside or you’re on a beach vacation, let your body acclimate to the heat before doing anything strenuous.
  • Circulation is your friend: If you don’t have air conditioning, be sure to use fans to keep air flowing in your home.
  • Slather on the sunscreen: Sunburn limits your body’s ability to keep itself cool. So even if it looks uncool, keep applying sunscreen.
  • Be a good neighbor: Check-in on folks who might be at a higher risk for heat-related illnesses such as elderly, disabled, or house-bound individuals.

Why are Electrolytes so Important?

Calcium, sodium, and potassium are the most important electrolytes in your body. “Calcium and potassium have to be in balance—sitting on either side of cell membranes, ready to switch places—in order to cause muscles to contract or nerves to transmit impulses. Once calcium and potassium swap places and cause things to happen, sodium puts them back in their place for the next time. If there aren’t enough of one or two or all of these electrolytes, then the heart muscle cells can’t move, which means the heart won’t pump,” (VeryWell Health).

And here’s what the American Heart Association has to say about electrolytes: “Electrolyte abnormalities are commonly associated with cardiovascular emergencies. These abnormalities may cause or contribute to cardiac arrest and may hinder resuscitative efforts.” 

Cardiac arrest brought on by heatstroke is 100% avoidable! Listen to your body, and before you head out into the sun, whip up a batch of homemade lemon-ginger electrolyte drink!

For more information on sudden cardiac arrest, AEDs, and CPR and AED Training, search our blog archives or call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. You can also email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

DISCLAIMER: Information and resources found on the cardiopartners.com and aed.com websites/blogs are intended to educate, inform, and motivate readers to make their health and wellness decisions after consulting with their healthcare provider. The authors are not healthcare providers. NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition.

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Celebrate World Heart Day on September 29!

Cardio Partners Joins the World Heart Federation in Raising Awareness for Cardiovascular Disease

We’ve devoted a lot of time talking about sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and heart attacks but cardiovascular disease (CVD) — which can lead to a heart attack or SCA — is the leading cause of death and disability in the world, killing 17.5 million people a year! That’s a third of all deaths on the planet and half of all non-communicable-disease-related deaths. Around 80% of these deaths are in low- and middle-income countries where human and financial resources are least able to address the CVD burden (World Heart Federation).

Are You at Risk for CVD?

CVD is a broad term encompassing any disease of the heart, vascular disease of the brain, or disease of the blood vessels. The most prevalent cardiovascular diseases include coronary heart disease (which and result in having a heart attack) and cerebrovascular disease (which can result in having a stroke).

Individuals who commit to controlling key risk factors such as diet, physical activity, tobacco use, cholesterol, and blood pressure may reduce their risk of CVD. Risk factors that are tougher to control include a family predisposition for CVD, diabetes, aging, gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic status.

Challenge Yourself to Live A Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

This year we’re committing to showing our hearts some love and we encourage you to do the same. Here are some great heart-healthy tips and recommendations to commemorate World Heart Day 2018.

Get Moving! Live a More Active Lifestyle.

In the sad but true department, many Americans spend 93 percent of their lifetimes indoors — and 70 percent of each day sitting.

For those of us who spend our days sitting behind a desk or glued to our screens (and if you’re reading this, odds are good that you’re staring at a screen while sitting down!), it’s time to get moving! Livestrong reports that people who take fewer than 5,000 steps are considered to be sedentary or inactive. Those who take 5,000 to 7,499 steps daily have a low active lifestyle. Somewhat active people usually take 7,500 to 9,999 steps per day. People considered to be active take 10,000 or more steps per day.

If you’re not counting your steps, try squeezing in 30 minutes of activity each day. Don’t feel like you need to tether yourself to the treadmill for 30 minutes! Take a 10-minute walk during your lunch break, have a 10-minute dance party with your kids, or grab a neighbor and go for a spin around the block. If you haven’t been active for a while, take it slow and begin with five or 10- minute sessions.

Just Say No to Sugar

Instead of grabbing a soda or a sugary energy drink, keep a bottle of water on your desk. The American Heart Association recommends limiting sugar intake to just six teaspoons per day, yet the average American consumes a whopping 19.5 teaspoons (82 grams) every day, which translates into about 66 pounds of added sugar consumed each year, per person (University of California San Francisco).

Other sneaky sources of sugar include packaged salad dressings, dried fruit, commercial smoothies, protein bars, yogurt, bread, ketchup, and bottled spaghetti sauces.

Fire Up Your Lunch

Lunchtime is an easy way to make a big difference in your diet. Simply swap out those granola bars and chips for heart-healthy snacks like fruits, nuts, and veggies. If you’re in the fast-food habit, gradually replace these heavily processed meals with a nutrient and fiber-rich lunch from home. If you don’t have the time for meal planning and shopping, or if cooking isn’t your passion, consider subscribing to a meal delivery service like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron. Many of these services, such as Home Chef, even offer affordable lunch options

Get Certified

While obtaining your CPR, AED, and First Aid certifications aren’t necessarily good for the heart, they’re good for the soul…and you just might save a heart. In case you missed it, we covered What to Expect from a CPR and First Aid Course back in April.

Put out the Smoke

We saved the biggest and most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of CVD for last. If you use tobacco products, now’s the time to stop. It’s the very best thing you can do for your heart. Within just two years of quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is dramatically reduced and within 15 years of quitting, your risk of CVD returns to that of a non-smoker (World Heart Day).

Let us know how you’re going to give your heart a boost! To arrange a CPR, First Aid or AED training for your workplace or organization, call Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362 or send an email to customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

 

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September is National Cholesterol Awareness Month

Elevated cholesterol levels can put you at high risk for heart disease. Find out if you have high cholesterol and encourage your loved ones to do the same!

We’re all about awareness and prevention here at Cardio Partners and AED.com so in honor of National Cholesterol Awareness month, this week’s post is chock-full of facts about cholesterol and some helpful tips for keeping your cholesterol in line.

Facts About Cholesterol

Did you know that more than 95 million American adults over the age of 20 have total cholesterol levels at or above 200 mg/dL, and that more than 29 million of these people have levels of 240 mg/dL or higher (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)?

There’s no way around it: having high blood cholesterol puts you at risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, people with high cholesterol have nearly twice the risk of heart disease as people with lower levels.

In 2011-2012, the CDC reported that 78 million Americans (nearly 37% the population) have high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) — that’s what most of us call “bad” cholesterol — and just 43 million (55%) of the population who need cholesterol medication are currently taking it.

Although high cholesterol is more common among adults, 7% of children and adolescents ages six to 19 have high total cholesterol (CDC).

You may be surprised to discover that cholesterol levels vary by race, gender, and ethnicity. Women are more likely to have high total cholesterol than men and Hispanics are more likely to have higher total cholesterol than African Americans, whites, or Asians.

What is Cholesterol, Exactly?

First of all, it’s not all bad. Your body needs some cholesterol to function. The trouble comes when you have too much of a good thing and it begins to accumulate on your arteries.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that can be found in every cell in your body. It’s a critical component in building cell membranes. Cholesterol is also used to make vitamin D, hormones like estrogen and testosterone, and fat-dissolving bile acids. Because it’s so important to your body’s ability to function, your liver and intestines produce approximately 80% of the cholesterol your body needs to stay healthy (Harvard Health Publishing).

Which means only 20% comes from the foods you eat!

What You Can (and Cannot) Control About Your Cholesterol

In many instances, the amount of LDL in your bloodstream and how fast your body removes it is determined by your genes. If high cholesterol runs in your family, be sure to keep a close eye on your levels. Although you can’t control your genetics, age, or gender, there’s still plenty you can do to help lower your overall cholesterol.

Exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking all help prevent high cholesterol and reduce your total cholesterol count.

There are three nutrients known to increase those dreaded LDL levels: saturated fats (found mostly in foods that come from animal proteins), trans fats (found primarily in foods made from hydrogenated oils and fats such as margarine or crackers), and cholesterol found in animal products such as egg yolks, butter, and cream.

If you have high cholesterol or high cholesterol runs in your family, medical experts recommend a diet that’s full of LDL-lowering foods (fruits, vegetables, and whole grain) and goes easy on LDL-rich fatty foods (meat, eggs, butter).

Here are a few foods that have been proven to lower your LDL (Harvard Health Publishing) while giving your HDL (high-density lipoprotein, or “good” cholesterol) a boost:

  • Oats
  • Barley and other whole grains
  • Eggplant, okra, and other low-calorie vegetables high in soluble fiber
  • Vegetable oils (in place of butter, margarine, lard, or shortening)
  • Apples, grapes, strawberries, and citrus fruits
  • Soy
  • Fatty fish

Know Your Cholesterol Numbers

High cholesterol has no symptoms, so many people don’t even know that their cholesterol levels are elevated. Your doctor can do a simple fasting blood test to check your levels. The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that adults get their cholesterol checked every five years.

The CDC recommends total cholesterol levels remain less than 200 mg/DL. Your LDL should be less than 100 mg/DL and your HDL should be 60 mg/DL or higher. Triglycerides should remain under 150 mg/DL.

Lowering your cholesterol can reduce your risk of having a heart attack, suffering from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) brought on by a heart attack (learn more about the difference between cardiac arrest and a heart attack), undergoing heart bypass surgery or angioplasty, or dying from heart disease. If you haven’t had your cholesterol checked recently, make an appointment today!

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