A statement just released by Habitat for Humanity reveals President Jimmy Carter "has been working hard all week. He was dehydrated working in the hot sun and has been taken offsite for observation. He encourages everyone to stay hydrated and keep building."
The National Health Statistics Reports generated by the United States Department of Health and Human Services attributed the annual death rate from weather-induced causes to be 2,000 per year between 2006-2010. Among them, 31% are the consequence of extreme natural heat, heat stroke, sun stroke or any combination. (See Winter is No Wonderland for cold-related illnesses and their prevention).
Anyone can get overheated under the right circumstances and be at risk of heat exhaustion, syncope (aka fainting), dehydration and worst of all death. Fortunately, these situations can be mostly averted if the proper precautions are put in place and early emergency care is sought if you get yourself in trouble. For the otherwise healthy, excessive exertion in the heat is a significant contributing factor. Geography plays a role too. It was only in May, for example, that Senator Thom Tillis collapsed at a race. Due to early media reports erroneously claiming he required CPR, he released a video clarifying from his hospital bed: “Hey everybody, I’m fine. Just running about 2.5 miles in, got overheated. No CPR. No special measures. Just checking me out. See you back on the Hill.” (See video here, learn more at Senator Thom Tillis Collapses At Race, Early Media Reports Confusing ).
Those at greater risk tend to be individuals with underlying medical conditions, extremes of ages, and those taking certain medications that can adversely impact one's ability to regulate body temperature or become more susceptible to heat changes. Tack onto that profound exertion in rising temperatures with inadequate fluid repletion for protracted periods and danger can ensue. People who abuse substances like alcohol and narcotics, are immobile, lack air conditioning and work or exercise outside are also more vulnerable.
With sunburn an added issue especially in the summer months, insensible fluid losses continue. In the case of President Carter, he has been very public about his battle with metastatic melanoma. For a person with a history of skin cancer, being extra careful in the sun is a mainstay for their lifestyle. As a result, they may have a tendency to overdress for optimal skin coverage to minimize sun exposure. (To learn more about his story and melanoma in general, read and find video at Jimmy Carter 'Cured' Of Metastatic Melanoma? and Tanorexia? The Latest Skinny On Melanoma).
There are ideal methods to maintain hydration and, hopefully, avoid heat-related illnesses. Discussing with your doctor --who knows your personal and family history-- is in your best interest, preferably before taking on extreme sports or the like. Fortunately, reports indicate 92-year-old President Carter is doing well.
To learn more about fainting in general --heat-related or otherwise-- review Why We Faint which touches upon Minnesota’s Governor Mark Dayton collapse while giving the State of the State address.