The extreme heatwaves that hit Ceara in September raised awareness of a problem: the number of stroke cases, which can increase as temperatures rise. According to the Cearense Meteorological and Water Resources Foundation (Funceme), the state, especially in the months of September, October and November, recorded historically higher maximum temperatures, with days with fewer clouds, more direct solar radiation and higher temperature peaks especially in the interior of The state, where temperatures reach 38 degrees.
According to experts, as climate change intensifies and the incidence of extreme temperatures increases, the risk of stroke is likely to increase. Hence the need for greater care.
“Exposure to heat causes our blood vessels to dilate, which helps lower our blood pressure, thus causing discomfort. Neurologist Saulo Di France, Stroke Coordinator at Kariri Regional Hospital (HRC), a specialized stroke unit, says: Dehydration can also lead to increased blood viscosity and cholesterol levels, which in turn increases the likelihood of microvascular thrombosis and stroke, especially in patients with hypertension and diabetes,” Ceara Health Administration (Sesa) in Juazeiro do Norte.
It is important to highlight that, in addition to temperature, there are other health problems that can increase the risk of stroke, such as high blood cholesterol, alcohol consumption, high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity, and smoking. These factors may contribute to a higher rate of stroke during days when thermometers register high temperatures.
According to France, the elderly are the main victims of extreme temperatures. “When we are exposed to high temperatures, our body seeks to adapt as a defense mechanism. Vasodilation and sweating are some examples. In this case, the heart rate increases to compensate for the vasodilation and this leads to increased cardiac effort. But this mechanism becomes less efficient with age.”
How to prevent?
To protect yourself from heat and high temperatures, the key is hydration. Prolonged exposure to extreme heat can cause dehydration, when our bodies lose more fluids than they receive. One of the factors that prevent this deficiency is regular consumption of water, even before feeling thirsty.
In addition to drinking water, residents can protect themselves by following some basic precautions: wearing light, light-colored, loose clothing; Avoid direct contact with the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.; If you are going to leave the house, use sunscreen, hats, umbrellas, and wear appropriate shoes, especially for diabetics; Dr. Caroline Cabral, medical clinic coordinator at HRC, explained that it reduces the time of physical activity exposed to the sun.
For the doctor, during this period of rising temperatures, it is essential that family members and professionals remain alert. “It is necessary for everyone to check how others deal with this excessive heat. He pointed out that children and some elderly people are unable to express themselves clearly orally, so it is necessary to be vigilant and notice the symptoms caused by high temperatures early.
The main symptoms include cramps, dizziness, fatigue and nausea. The professional added: “There are other more serious symptoms, such as mental confusion and seizures, and those who are predisposed to cardiovascular disease may have a heart attack.” In case of any discomfort, it is necessary to seek help. In serious cases, such as seizures and delirium, the medical team should be called immediately.
Reference in treatment
A stroke occurs when a vessel that carries blood to the brain becomes blocked or ruptured, causing paralysis in the area of the brain that lacks blood circulation and oxygen. This disease is one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. In Brazil, in the first half of 2023 alone, there were more than 56,000 victims, according to data from the Transparency Portal of the Brazilian Civil Registry Offices, as the disease is considered the second largest cause of death in the country.
HRC has a 24/7 emergency room, with targeted stroke care and a multidisciplinary rehabilitation service. In addition to emergency care, after discharge from hospital, if necessary, the patient is monitored by a multidisciplinary team, with a neurologist, nurse specialist, physiotherapist, nutritionist and social worker.
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