HEAT WARNING: How medications put you at an increased risk for complications, when to call 911

This week’s excessive heat can easily lead to heat exhaustion where we can feel tired, dizzy, clammy.

Heat sensitive populations include people over 70, younger than 15 or taking certain medications.

Enrique Barrientos, from Katy, said that he passed out earlier this summer from the heat exhaustion while working in his yard.

“In 15 minutes, I was totally exhausted, without energy,” Barrientos explained the sudden onset.

He had recently had a heart attack and even though his heart health was improving, he didn’t realize that medications he was taking made him more sensitive to heat and it led to a medical emergency that landed him in the hospital again.

Dr. Majid Basit, from Memorial Hermann in Sugar Land, said many patients aren’t aware their medications can increase chances of heat exhaustion or stroke. Particularly medications for your heart, kidneys, liver, high blood pressure and diuretics.

“Especially diuretics. So, those are water pills that make you urinate more and make you dehydrated to help with too much volume in your body and so when you combine that with heat and sweating and the humidity, it makes you more dehydrated much faster,” Dr. Basit explained.

He said in southeast Texas, it’s not just the heat but the humidity that can hurt you.

“We can’t cool ourselves and so we can get heat exhaustion within 15 to 20 minutes. So, the first thing to do is to make sure yourself, your friends and family if they show signs of heat exhaustion; they get indoors, they get cold liquids, takeoff any excess clothing,” Dr. Basit said. “If you absolutely have to go outside and you’re on some of these medications, talk to your doctor.”

The most vulnerable populations in this heat:

  • Kids younger than middle school age
  • Adults over 70
  • People with a chronic condition

Heat exhaustion can be treated at home or any cool environment with plenty of fluids. A heat stroke is a medical emergency that needs to be professionally treated to prevent damage to internal organs.

Here’s how to tell the difference:

Heat exhaustion signs (KPRC 2)