Doctors caution about heatstroke amid IMD warning of severe heatwave

A red alert has been issued by the Met department for several regions, including west Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chandigarh, Punjab, Delhi, Haryana, and portions of Gujarat, due to extreme heatwave conditions expected in these areas over the next five days.

The private sector weather forecaster Skymet also indicated that this week’s heatwave will only get worse. Ten cities nationwide have recorded the hottest temperatures in the past 24 hours. While Pilani in Rajasthan, certain areas of UP, and Punjab experienced temperatures between 45 and 47 degrees, Sirsa in Haryana recorded 47.8 degrees.

In Maharashtra, the temperature has similarly lingered between 44 and 45 degrees Celsius during the past 24 hours. It is anticipated that the highest daily temperatures in these states would rise beyond 47°C, providing minimal respite to those enduring the extreme summer heat.

Heatstroke cases

Recently, Fortis Hospital Gurgaon received a case of severe heatstroke where an 80-year-old man with body temperature shooting up to 105 degrees, along with a state of deep sleep from which he couldn’t wake up. Multiple tests, including MRI scans were done which came normal however he had low urine output, kidney and liver enzymes were high, and his blood pressure was low requiring ionotropic medication. He was given a final diagnosis of heat stroke with multiple organ dysfunctions. But, with aggressive cooling and hydration, he responded well.

“Quick recognition and immediate cooling are crucial for recovery in heatstroke cases. Supporting vital organs such as the heart, brain, kidneys, and liver at the onset can prevent multiple organ dysfunction and lead to miraculous recoveries,” said Dr Praveen Gupta, principal director and chief of neurology at Fortis Hospital, Gurugram.

While so far there has not been any major surge in the number of admissions or cases associated with severe heat conditions, medical experts advise certain precautions which will help avoid any major health calamities.

Heatwave health risks

The other complications faced in heatwaves are cardiovascular problems which is increased strain on the heart, which can lead to heart attacks, high blood pressure, and other cardiovascular issues, electrolyte imbalance which is caused due to excessive sweating and can lead to imbalances in essential electrolytes like sodium and potassium, affecting muscle function and heart rhythm. Dr Anurag Aggarwal, consultant, Internal Medicine, Fortis Escorts Hospital Faridabad, stated that prolonged heat exposure and dehydration can reduce kidney function and potentially lead to acute kidney injury. He also noted that exacerbation of pre-existing conditions can also happen which is worsening of chronic conditions such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and mental health issues.

“By being aware of these issues and taking appropriate preventive measures, individuals and communities can better manage the risks associated with heatwaves,” he added. But, there were not enough patients in the hospital with heatwave-related illnesses as of today to indicate a trend or a pattern.

Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, Internal Medicine, Apollo Hospitals, said that there are several cases of heat exhaustion and heat cramps rather than heatstroke. “Such cases are being seen mostly in elderly with cardiac issues and kidney problems and a few healthy young adults as well. Also, hydrate oneself well doesn’t mean drinking excessive water, especially for heart and kidney patients. It has to be under the guidance of a treating doctor and one should avoid exercising at peak of heat,” he added.

Dr. Bhaskar Shukla, senior consultant – PSRI Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery, PSRI Hospital, stated that for each 1°C increase in temperature, there is a 35% greater risk of emergency visits for stroke. “Specifically, higher temperatures are associated with 24% elevated likelihood of haemorrhagic stroke (bleeding in the brain), 36% increased risk of ischaemic stroke (blockage of blood flow to the brain) and 56% raised risk of transient ischaemic attack (temporary disruption of blood flow to the brain),” he said.

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Published: 22 May 2024, 07:42 PM IST

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