HealthWise: Heat's impact on the heart

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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- With temperatures in Charlottesville staying above 90 degrees through the Fourth of July holiday, people will face the danger of heat stroke as they watch parades, attend barbecues, and enjoy fireworks.

Dr. Joshua Fischer, a cardiologist at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, says the high heat can really put a strain on your heart. And he said there is one thing that everyone must remember to do.

"It's very important to continue to hydrate throughout the activity," Fischer said. "When we get outside, we get busy, we forget about drinking, we don't feel thirsty, and often times, by the time you feel thirsty or feel dehydrated, it's a little too late."

Fischer said there is an easy way to tell if you're not drinking enough water: Check your urine. If your urine is not clear, it's time to hydrate even more.

He said the human body tries to cool us down by opening the blood vessels to spread the heat to our fingers and toes. However, there's a downside to that approach.

"That can drop the blood pressure low enough that you're not getting enough blood pressure to the brain," Fischer said. And a drop in blood pressure can cause someone to faint.

Besides drinking lots of water, Fischer also recommends wearing a hat. He said it's important to keep an eye on loved ones. If they get headaches, or vomit, or show signs of confusion, they may need to go to the hospital.

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