An emergency vehicle is set up as a cooling station during a June 30 heatwave in Calgary.An emergency vehicle is set up as a cooling station during a June 30 heatwave in Calgary.

Kinesiology professor warns of deadly threat posed by summer heat

The extreme heat of summer places stress on our hearts and blood vessels that can be fatal to the elderly and other vulnerable people, warns kinesiology professor Anthony Bain.

Anthony BainIn an article published July 21 in The Conversation, Dr. Bain (pictured at left) writes that heat stroke is dangerous, but cardiovascular stress is responsible for more deaths during heat waves. And, thanks to global warming, heat waves are becoming longer, more intense, and more frequent.

This is bad news for populations like the elderly and those with conditions such as heart disease and diabetes who are more vulnerable to extreme heat.

Bain’s article explains how the cardiovascular system responds when core and skin temperature rise. Seeking relief in air-conditioned environments, wearing light clothing, keeping hydrated, and avoiding strenuous activity are effective ways to place less stress on the cardiovascular system during heat waves.

Dr. Bain also explains how supervised heat therapy is emerging as a tool to improve heart and blood vessel function.

In the end, exercise, a healthy diet, and perhaps also heat therapy (if done safely) will not only reduce the incidence for the leading cause of death worldwide (heart disease), they will also reduce the excess deaths during a heat wave,” he says.

The Conversation is an online publication that shares news and views from the academic and research community.

—Sarah Sacheli

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