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Heart attack warning as weeklong heatwave hits

The National Heart Foundation of Australia yesterday issued a warning to people with heart disease to take extra care in the heat this week, after a weeklong heatwave alert has been issued across the majority of the country.

People with heart disease or people who are taking medicines for blood pressure or excess fluid, such as diuretics are at higher risk of falling ill, heart attack and death during a heatwave.

Heart Foundation SA director of Cardiovascular Health, Wendy Keech, said this was only the start of a long hot summer so people needed to prepare themselves and think about how they’ll manage.

“People most at risk are those with a chronic disease, such as heart disease, as well older people, children, people taking certain types of medicines, and people engaged in strenuous outdoor activity or physical labour,” Ms Keech said.

“People who are in the high risk groups should take care during a heatwave and consult their GP about the best ways to manage their condition.”

Ms Keech explained as the temperature rises, the body tries to adapt and balance the heat by increasing blood flow to the skin and by sweating.

“Sweating leads to dehydration, which reduces the volume of blood. This makes the heart pump harder in order to circulate the reduced amount of blood around the body,” she said.

In Australia, heatwaves claim more lives than any other natural hazard.

Tips during a heatwave

  • Look after yourself and keep in touch with others
  • Drink plenty of water without waiting for thirst (if your doctor normally limits your fluids, check how much to drink during hot weather)
  • Keep cool – stay indoors or in an air-conditioned environment
  • Stay out of the sun
  • Reduce normal activity levels

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