El Paso, Texas, is known everywhere for its dry climate, giving way to scorching summers. While the desert weather attracts many residents and tourists, it also brings some challenges, particularly regarding medical emergencies. Namely, between 2007 and 2009, one of the three leading causes of death in all El Paso residents, regardless of age or sex, was heart disease, meaning there are increased chances of heart attacks.
This article will explore the connection between El Paso’s climate and CPR emergencies. If you want to learn more, read below about the effects of extreme heat on the human body and the steps needed to ensure weather-induced CPR emergencies end with a positive result.
How Extreme Heat Influences the Human Body
El Paso experiences some of the hottest temperatures in the United States. The average highs go well over 95 degrees Fahrenheit for several months yearly. In fact, the hottest day in El Paso recorded to this day was June 30, 1994, with 114 Fahrenheit.
This extreme heat can have dire effects on the human body, especially for those not used to such conditions, as well as people of older age. When exposed to high temperatures, the body’s natural cooling mechanisms are overwhelmed; hence, it starts working at double its usual pace. This then leads to heat exhaustion or, in a worst-case scenario, heat strokes.
Results of Untreated Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion is characterized by symptoms such as heavy sweating, dizziness, nausea, and a rapid pulse. If left untreated for a while, it can progress to a heat stroke and even a heart attack.
Heat strokes occur when the body’s core temperature rises above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Usually, people with a heat stroke have seizures, sometimes resulting in loss of consciousness. As you may guess, the more severe cases can be fatal.
How El Paso’s Climate Increases the Risk of CPR Emergencies
Thanks to El Paso’s scorching temperatures, any type of physical exertion (most often outdoor activities like gardening or walking the pets) can significantly increase the risk of cardiac arrests, heart attacks, and other CPR emergencies.
When exposed to extreme heat, the heart has to work harder to pump blood and maintain all normal body functions. This increased strain on the cardiovascular system is the perfect recipe for triggering cardiac arrests and heart attacks. It especially goes for those with pre-existing heart conditions, people who are not in optimal health, or those who have recently suffered from a pulmonary illness.
What’s more, the dry climate in El Paso leads to dehydration if water is not consumed regularly. This factor adds more to the risk of heart attacks and other emergencies that require CPR because dehydration reduces blood volume, making it harder for the heart to circulate blood effectively. As a result, the heart rate and blood pressure increase, making you more susceptible to cardiac arrests and heart attacks.
Common Causes and Examples That Lead to CPR Emergencies in El Paso
As we mentioned, certain activities in this part of Texas can lead to CPR emergencies when done during summer or on days when the temperature is high.
One such example is doing outdoor sports or engaging in some physical labor activities like garden scaping. The hot weather in these situations only boosts the chances of a heat stroke since your inner temperature has already risen. Of course, the more you engage in the activity, the more you open yourself up to the possibility of suffering a heart attack or cardiac arrest.
Dehydration can also lead to a CPR emergency. If you don’t drink enough water during the scorching days in El Paso, the chances of suffering a sudden cardiac arrest are higher, even in younger generations. As we said, heat exhaustion and heat stroke can also lead to cardiac arrests if not immediately recognized and treated adequately ASAP.
Recognizing the Signs of Heat-Related CPR Emergencies
If you want to act quickly in some emergencies and use your CPR knowledge (if applicable), then you must know how to recognize the signs of heat-induced and related heart attacks, heat strokes, or cardiac arrest. Some of the most common symptoms present in almost all cases are:
- A lot of sweating or a complete lack of sweat
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Confusion and disorientation
- Loss of consciousness
In these cases, the best option is to immediately start giving CPR and proceed with it until medical personnel arrives on the spot. Recognizing these signs and acting right away definitely improves the chances of survival.
Steps to Take When Encountering a CPR Emergency in Hot Weather
Not everyone is trained in the CPR technique, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t offer a helping hand when someone falls into a sudden cardiac arrest. Since the hot weather doubles the chances of this happening, every El Paso resident should at least be aware of the pre-CPR steps.
- Call for emergency medical assistance.
- Move the victim to a shaded or air-conditioned area if possible.
- Check for responsiveness and breathing.
- If they are not responding and/or not breathing or only gasping, begin CPR immediately.
- Use an automated external defibrillator (AED) if you can.
- Continue giving CPR until medical professionals take over.
All of these steps are important, but they revolve around one main point—knowing how to give proper CPR. You can read about it and learn the basic steps, but taking a course gives you practical knowledge, making sure that the person suffering from cardiac arrest makes a full recovery.
Training and Certification for CPR in Extreme Weather Conditions
Given the unique challenges posed by El Paso’s climate, it is highly advised that you get adequate training and certification in CPR. As we already stated above, the climate in this region of the US is prone to heatwaves, increasing the chances of heart attacks.
That is why CPR courses tailored to address the specific needs and risks associated with hot weather can equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge to respond effectively. El Paso has training centers led by organizations such as the American Heart Association. It offers specialized CPR training programs with courses focusing on heat-related emergencies.
These courses cover everything you need, such as recognizing signs of heat-related illnesses, performing CPR in extreme weather conditions, and using AEDs in such scenarios. They are also taught by AHA-certified specialists in El Paso, meaning you will get first-hand experience in tackling heart problems in this desert climate.
How to Reduce the Chances of a Heart Attack in El Paso
The best way to ensure that you or someone close to you doesn’t suffer a heart attack in El Paso’s arid climate is to drink plenty of water. A study proved that drinking more water decreases the chances of heart failure, including heart attacks and cardiac arrests.
The other option is to avoid any physical activities during hot days. This doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be any, as no activity whatsoever gives the same result—heart failure. The heart is a muscle that requires physical exercise since regular contractions arising from even a simple workout help strengthen it. This leads to better blood flow and oxygenation.
To put it better, avoid outdoor activities on hot days. Indoor workouts or other physical activities are encouraged.
Final Words: Take Action to Save Lives in El Paso’s Climate
El Paso’s climate does have unique challenges when it comes to medical emergencies. Extreme heat and dehydration increase the risk of heart attacks and heat strokes, making it crucial for all county residents to understand the climate’s effects on the human body and recognize the signs of heat-related failures.
Immediate action includes moving the victim to a cooler place and starting CPR right after you call for emergency medical assistance. Of course, to be better prepared for these situations, it’s always advised to consider receiving specialized CPR training and certification.
El Paso offers AHA-certified courses that address heart risks associated with hot weather. Remember, being prepared and taking action can make all the difference!