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Ask Tufts Experts April 2012 Issue

Q: I live in Texas, and here it’s a common practice to take salt tablets to prevent heat stroke. Given the health concerns about dietary salt, is this a good idea?

Answer :  Salt tablets are no longer recommended to prevent heat stroke, says Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, director of Tufts’ Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory. Instead, the American Heart Association recommends drinking plenty of fluids—preferably water—before, during and after physical activity, especially when temperatures soar. Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages.

The National Institute on Aging notes that hot weather can pose special health risks to older adults, who may not be as quick to feel thirsty and thus are prone to dehydration. Salt pills, according to the institute, should not be used without first consulting a doctor.

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