In the wake of 2023 being declared the hottest year on record and the increasing frequency, intensity, and duration of heatwaves in Australia, health experts warn of a growing threat to cardiovascular health.
According to studies, heatwaves contribute to an alarming 11.7 per cent increase in cardiovascular disease-related deaths. Recognising the gravity of the situation, experts from the Monash Victorian Heart Institute have offered crucial advice to help individuals prepare for and cope with extreme heat.
Some of the tips to stay safe in extreme temperatures include;
Associate Professor Zerina Lokmic-Tomkins, Monash School of Nursing and Midwifery, Registered Nurse, Advocate for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation to protect planetary health, Research Lead for Climate Change and Sustainable Healthcare underscores the importance of recognising warning signs of heat stress, especially for those with pre-existing heart conditions.
“It is important to be familiar with potential warning signs that may indicate heat stress, such as feeling dizzy, having a rapid pulse, or experiencing nausea,” Lokmic-Tomkins explained.
“If you encounter any of these symptoms, especially if you have a pre-existing heart condition, please seek medical attention without delay. Seeking help early ensures a timely assessment and management of your health concerns.
For those without air-conditioning, keeping homes cool by strategic window and shutter management, along with the use of electric fans, is crucial.
“If your place is not air-conditioned, keep your home cool by opening windows and shutters at night and early morning when temperatures are lower. During the day, close windows, blinds or shutters (if available), especially those exposed to direct sunlight. If you have an electric fan, use it. Staying hydrated is crucial, so drink water and avoid caffeine and alcohol during hot weather,” Lokmic-Tomkins said.
“In times of heatwaves, community solidarity becomes crucial. I encourage each of us to check in on vulnerable members of our community, particularly the elderly or those with heart problems. It’s essential that we stay well-informed about the locations of cooling centres and local emergency medical services, ensuring easy access to help if needed. We need to support each other during these challenging times.”