NEW YORK (PIX11) — Summer is time to enjoy the outdoors, but as temperatures rise to dangerous levels, so do the risks for heat-related illnesses.
“Your body is in such a stressed-out mode. It starts to prioritize the most important organs. It starts closing off the blood vessels from your fingertips and your nose, all the peripheral circulatory system,” said Dr. Eugene Vortsman of Northwell Health.
Heat stroke is caused by an increase in the body’s temperature to 104 degrees or more. Blood pressure may also drop in the extreme heat, which could lead to life-threatening consequences. According to the CDC, heat was a contributing factor in 1,577 U.S. deaths in 2021. That’s a 56% jump from 1,012 in 2018.
Doctors say children 4 years old and under are at an increased risk because their central nervous system isn’t fully developed. Adults over 65 years old are also vulnerable because the central nervous system deteriorates with age.
In addition to affecting your physical health, doctors say soaring temperatures can also affect your mental health. Child and adult psychiatrist Dr. Judith Joseph said the extreme heat can throw brain chemicals out of whack, leaving a lasting impact.
“Our brain cells are the most sensitive cells in our entire body. They are the only cells that you cannot reproduce. Once they are gone, they are gone. At high temperatures, people think at a slower pace. Their focus is off, their concentration is off, their problem solving is off, and they don’t make the best decisions,” Joseph said.
She says before you become reactive, get proactive. As temperatures continue to rise this summer, staying on top of weather forecasts will allow you to forecast your mood and your body too.