A labourer tries to beat the summer heat at a construction site in Dubai. Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: At least four deaths have been recorded in Abu Dhabi in the past two months due to heatstroke, Abu Dhabi police told Gulf News.

Three out of the four victims were people who had apparently lost their way in the desert and did not receive medical attention in time. The fourth victim was a labourer, police said.

Heatstroke is a medical condition which arises when the body is unable to control its temperature.

The initial stage of the condition is called heat exhaustion, which results from excessive loss of water and salts from the body. In the absence of medical attention and continued exposure to high temperatures, it progressively worsens into a heatstroke, which can be fatal.

"There were four heatstroke victims during the months of June and July," said a police official, who asked not to be named.

An Indian construction worker, identified only as Z.A.M., was the first victim on June 12. "He was taken to the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City for treatment but could not be saved," the police spokesman said.

A 50-year-old Emirati man died from heatstroke on June 30. "Z.M. was retired and he owned a farm. He may have been inspecting it, while he lost his way and was found dead in the desert," the official said.

Two more cases were recorded on July 11 and July 25. Both the victims were Pakistani nationals who were working as shepherds. Aged 26 and 30, both are believed to have lost their way in the desert.

"With the strict enforcement of the mid-day break rule, cases of heat exhaustion and stroke have reduced considerably over the years," the spokesman said.

Extra precautions

Meanwhile, a doctor advised residents, especially outdoor workers, to take extra precautions this summer as it coincided with Ramadan.

Dr Suresh Babu, a general practitioner at Al Ahalia hospital, who handles emergency cases, said: "Every day there are about one to two cases of heat exhaustion that come to us, but heatstroke is very rare."

He said it was the same as every year, but this year he had seen more severe cases comparatively.

"This year, people need to be extra careful since Ramadan falls in August," he advised. Usually heat-related cases were reported between June and August.

"Most of the patients whom we treated were construction workers, glass fabricators etc, whose work involves a lot of time outdoors," he said.

The symptoms of exhaustion included giddiness, muscle cramps, excess sweating, and palpitation. If left untreated, the situation worsened to vomiting and loss of consciousness, Dr Babu added. "The progress from exhaustion to stroke is slow and can be prevented if the victim is attended to," he said.

The first step involves removing the patient to cooler temperatures, replenishing lost water and salts, and cooling the person's body.

He also warned that people with other medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension must be cautious since medications they might be taking could increase their susceptibility to heat-related problems.

What precautions are you taking while you are out in the sun? Are you aware of the symptoms of heat stroke? Do you know what to do if you have it?