What is heatstroke and how big of a concern is this on really hot days in Central Minnesota?  Dr. David Perez-Lauterbach of CentraCare indicates heatstroke is the most dangerous of the heat related injuries.  Perez-Lauterbach says heatstroke is when someone gets so hot you get altered mental status or confusion of some kind.

Dr. Perez-Lauterbach explains that a stroke is when there is a lack of blood flow to the brain.  He says the only reason the word "stroke" is used in "heatstroke" is because it does involve the brain.  Dr. Perez-Lauterbach says heatstroke is not about a lack of blood flow to the brain but it's when the body gets so hot the brain isn't acting correctly.

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There tends to be a step process people go through before they get to heatstroke.  Dr. Perez-Lauterbach says the first thing people tend to get is heat cramps which can happen if you are doing something physical in extreme heat.  The next step can be fainting due to extreme heat.  Perez-Lauterbach says when the body gets hot it moves all the blood to the skin to cool off.  He says when that happens it is more difficult to get blood to the brain and that's when fainting can happen.

The next step prior to heatstroke is heat exhaustion.  Dr. Perez-Lauterbach says heat exhaustion is when a person becomes tired, this could include cramps, and light headedness.   He says a person can have heat stroke without fainting or cramps but not heat exhaustion first.   Dr. Perez-Lauterbach says in the worst cases people can die of heat stroke.

To prevent heat stroke Dr. Lauterbach says air conditioning, shaded areas, and spending time in water can help reverse symptoms and help a person get back to normal.  If you'd like to listen to my 4-part conversation with Dr. David Perez-Lauterbach it is available below.






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