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Men in Their 60s, Heat and Heart Attacks

Men in Their 60s, Heat and Heart Attacks

Men in their early 60s face a greater risk of dying from heart attacks and strokes on hot, muggy nights, according to a new study. Researchers found that even a 2-degree rise in night-time temperatures during the hottest summer months was linked to a nearly 5% spike in deaths from the conditions.

Hot weather is a known risk factor for heart health, especially for those with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions. That’s because the heart has to work overtime to maintain the body’s regular temperature, which can impact factors like blood pressure.

The study looked at heart-related deaths in the UK and in Washington state in the U.S., which share similar climates. Living in warmer climates like south Louisiana, many of us are fortunate to have central air-conditioning, though many do rely on window units. If you’re able to, keep the thermostat in your bedroom cool overnight – the ideal is around 65 degrees F. Your body is programmed to experience a slight dip in core temperature in the evening hours. Turning the thermostat down may help with temperature regulation and signal your body that it’s time for bed.

When a storm hits and power outages spike, overheating can be a potential danger for everyone. To stay cool – and heart-healthy -- without AC, keep these tips in mind:

  • Try to keep your home cool during the daytime by closing curtains. You could also try window reflectors that reflect heat back outside
  • Take a cool shower or bath, or put a cold, wet washcloth or ice pack under your arm or at your groin
  • Stay hydrated and avoid too much caffeine or alcohol. On dangerously hot and humid days, try drinking a glass of water every hour.
  • Stick with smaller meals that don’t overload your stomach.
  • Wear loose fitting cotton-based clothes and pajamas
  • Don’t rely too much on fans – they only work to a point. Try spending an hour or two with a neighbor who has AC, or even in a movie theater or library.

If you notice signs of heat stroke – a temperature about 103 degrees, rapid pulse, dizziness, or red, hot skin -- call 9-1-1 or get to an emergency room immediately.