July 17, 2006
Contact Tom Capezzuto
UMDNJ Emergency Physicians Warn Young, Ill and Elderly
to Avoid Exposure
to Forthcoming Heat Wave to Avoid
Heatstroke and Other Serious Illnesses
NEWARK — Summer and its excessive heat and humidity have officially arrived, and emergency medicine physicians from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) are available to discuss sweltering heat conditions and what precautions should be taken to avoid sickness that could escalate into life-threatening situations.
A spike in oppressive heat-related illnesses is anticipated in New Jersey and neighboring metropolitan area hospitals, with the vast majority of patients seeking relief at emergency rooms from heat exhaustion or heat-related complications from other illnesses, said Dr. Hosseinali Shahidi, director of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School and UMDNJ-University Hospital in Newark.
Dr. Shahidi warned that young children, and elderly and middle-aged people battling heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or multiple sclerosis should avoid venturing outside unless it is absolutely necessary, and to limit any time spent outside during the zenith of the days heat in the afternoon hours. Heat exhaustion develops slowly, while the more serious heatstroke strikes suddenly, he said.
Signs of heatstroke are:
· A body temperature higher than 104 degrees, coupled with dry or red skin, or a lack of sweat.
· Deep breathing with a fast pulse followed by shallow breathing with a weak pulse.
· Dilated pupils, confusion or hallucinations, convulsions or loss of consciousness.
Signs of heat exhaustion are:
· Cool, clammy and pale skin.
· Dry mouth, fatigue or weakness, dizziness or nausea.
· Vomiting, muscle cramps and a weak, rapid pulse.
Dr. Shahidi advises residents to dress lightly with light colors and avoid physical exertion as much as possible. Drink fluids regularly, avoid alcohol and remain in air-conditioning as much as possible.
UMDNJ is the nation’s largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and a school of public health on five campuses. Annually, there are more than two million patient visits at UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.