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SUNY Health Warns New Yorkers About Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

High Temperatures This Weekend Prompts More Vigilance About Health Effects of Heat


SUNY Health Emergency Physician Dr. Ninfa Mehta discusses heat exhaustion here

Albany – SUNY Health officials today urged all New Yorkers to be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion as temperatures soar during an extended heat wave across the state this week. This weekend in particular, all SUNY Health facilities and medical staff will be on watch for heat-related illnesses in patients.

“When temperatures are high for an extended period of time, the risk for heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke goes up, especially for the elderly and young babies,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. “Our SUNY health officials encourage everyone to seek shelter from the heat and to take measures to stay cool, and if they do notice symptoms of heat-related illnesses, they should take steps to cool down or seek medical care.” 

“With this extremely hot weather, everyone is vulnerable to heat exhaustion, especially if they are spending a lot of time outdoors, engaged in physical activity,” said Ricardo Azziz, MD, SUNY’s chief officer of academic health and hospital affairs. “High temperatures are a serious health risk that can be deadly. We urge everyone to remember that symptoms of heat exhaustion can arise quite suddenly, so it’s important to drink lots of water, avoid unnecessary sun exposure, and take advantage of air conditioned when possible.”

Heat exhaustion is a condition characterized by heavy sweating, clammy skin, nausea and vomiting, and a fast pulse. It may also cause fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headaches, and fainting. People experiencing heat exhaustion should stop all activity, move to a cool place, and consume cool, non-alcoholic beverages such as water and sports drinks. If symptoms do not subside after an hour in air conditioning and drinking fluids, the individual needs to seek medical attention. 

People most at risk for heat-related illnesses are those with cardiovascular, renal and respiratory disease; diabetes and/or obesity; and psychiatric or cognitive illnesses that impair judgment. Others at risk include adults over age 65, infants and young children; people who take diuretics, anticholinergics and neuroleptics; and people who use illicit drugs and heavy amounts of alcohol. People who are socially isolated or have limited mobility are also at higher risk. 

Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which causes body temperatures above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, hot skin, a rapid pulse, confusion, and loss of consciousness. Heat stroke is a medical emergency that warrants a 9-1-1 call. 

According to Dr. Ninfa Mehta, an emergency room physician at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, you can prevent heat-related illness by wearing loose-fitting clothing, drinking fluids, taking precautions against sunburn, and limiting outdoor activity in the heat. People who take medications that cause dehydration such as those for high blood pressure, heart disease, and psychiatric disorders should take extra precautions to stay cool and hydrated.

About SUNY Health
SUNY Health encompasses four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, the state’s only college of optometry, and 25 other campuses dedicated to health professions and services. Together, SUNY Health graduates more than 10,000 health professionals every year, including one of every three medical school graduates, one of every three nursing graduates, and one of every five dentists in the state. SUNY Health serves more than 1.3 million patients a year and produces groundbreaking biomedical and health sciences research and innovation. We play a critical role in creating the future of healthcare and medicine in New York State, across the country, and around the world. To learn more, visit: www.suny.edu/health.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, with 64 college and university campuses located within 30 miles of every home, school, and business in the state. As of Fall 2018, more than 424,000 students were enrolled in a degree program at a SUNY campus. In total, SUNY served 1.4 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs in the 2017-18 academic year. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Its students and faculty make significant contributions to research and discovery, contributing to a $1.6 billion research portfolio. There are 3 million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit www.suny.edu

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About SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is the borough’s only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care, and is a 342-bed facility serving the healthcare needs of New York City, and Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents. University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB) is Downstate’s teaching hospital, backed by the expertise of an outstanding medical school and the research facilities of a world-class academic center. More than 800 physicians, representing 53 specialties and subspecialties—many of them ranked as tops in their fields—comprise Downstate's staff.

A regional center for cardiac care, neonatal and high-risk infant services, pediatric dialysis, and transplantation, Downstate also houses a major learning center for children with physical ailments or neurological disorders. In addition to UHB, Downstate comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative, including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively. For more information, visit www.downstate.edu or follow us on Twitter at @sunydownstate.