29 April 2010

Heat Exhaustion Kills Diabetic Hypertensives in the Philippines

Yesterday was another hot day. They say it's the hottest since January this year. This may not also be the last in the 'hottest' series, as the temperature can still get hotter.

What really matters here is not only the recorded temperature, but how it really feels like out there with this kind of temperature.

AccuWeather.com calls it the RealFeel Temperature and it takes into account the effects of multiple parameters, including ambient temperature, wind speed, solar intensity, humidity, precipitation intensity/type, elevation and atmospheric pressure.

In the case yesterday, for example, that 37.3°C really felt like 40°C or a scorching 104°F.

Why so? Because of humidity and because heat can't really be dissipated in an environment like Metro Manila. The concrete roads and cemented surroundings absorb heat and stores it long after the sun has set.

Why is this important? What happens when it becomes hotter?
 Inquirer.net, 27 April 2010

News reports previously attributed the death of the former governor above due to heat stroke. I think it's a misnomer. Here's another case reported yesterday:

Manila Bulletin, 28 April 2010

Anyone who collapses here amidst a hot weather is termed a 'heat stroke,' but a heat stroke means having a temperature of more than 40°C due to heat exposure and abnormal thermoregulation. I strongly doubt both the governor and the cop's temperatures were taken at the time of their respective fainting spells.

What probably happens is simply heat exhaustion.

What ultimately kills them is a myriad of other factors.

In the governor's case, there was a confluence of diabetes, hypertension, and exhaustion from campaign activities. This was a fatal cocktail that led to a cerebrovascular stroke, and as reported, the governor was semi-comatose after his brain surgery. 

In the cop's case, it was clearly heat exhaustion complicated by head trauma when he fainted and hit his head on the cemented floor.
"A CPPO report said that Alivio fainted as he and his colleagues were having tae bo at the camp’s open basketball court at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. Tae bo is an exercise program combining elements of boxing, dance and tae kown do, a Korean martial art.
Alivio sustained bruises on the forehead when he collapsed on the cemented court. " ~ Manila Bulletin, 28 April 2010
Too much heat can certainly cause blood pressures and tempers to rise. Drinking plenty of water and staying in air-conditioned places might help. But ultimately, what determines survival is the presence or absence of complicating ailments like diabetes and hypertension.

There are plenty of diabetic hypertensives Filipinos out there. These people should be more cautious of their health conditions during these hot months. The risk of having cerebrovascular stroke increases in direct proportion to the increase in environmental temperature.
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