Individuals taking certain medications to treat chronic diseases are at risk of their body not being able to regulate to the correct temperature, a new study reveals.

Researchers from Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine in Singapore have found that some prescription drugs typically used to treat various chronic diseases can impact the body’s ability to lose heat and regulate its core temperature to optimal levels.

Not being able to control your body temperature can put you at risk of health complications, especially if you are elderly and have Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, dementia, diabetes or cancer.

During the study, the team of researchers analysed a variety of papers on thermoregulation to assess how medications impact it.

They found that Alzheimer’s drugs, blood pressure medications, blood thinners and some cancer drugs can affect the human body’s ability to sweat in hot weather.

Study author Mr Jericho Wee said: “Rising global temperatures caused by climate change pose a significant health concern for clinical patients reliant on long-term medications and healthcare.

“Increasingly, we will continue to see more elderly patients, many who have multiple health conditions and are taking different types of medication concurrently to manage their chronic diseases, compounding the risk of heat-related illness and dehydration.”

Mr Wee added: “Increasingly, we will continue to see more elderly patients, many who have multiple health conditions and are taking different types of medication concurrently to manage their chronic diseases, compounding the risk of heat-related illness and dehydration.

“Understanding how each medication impacts thermoregulation, in the face of warmer environments, is the crucial first step to predicting the possible health outcomes when multiple medications are taken concurrently.”

Co-author Professor Jason Lee said: “This review emphasises the importance of studying the mechanisms of altered thermoregulation in individuals with diabetes and other cardiometabolic conditions to prevent heat-induced conditions.

“This most relevant in Singapore and many other countries, where we have rapidly ageing populations and rising ambient temperatures.”

He added: “Pharmacological and thermal physiologists should focus transdisciplinary efforts on this area of research to refine and enhance safe medication prescription guidelines to preserve the health of people who need these medications, even in hot weather.”

Fellow researcher Professor Melvin Leow noted: “Physicians are often unaware of the potential harms certain drugs may cause by compromising the body’s thermoregulatory control mechanisms.

“This is an especially important area to delve into as those with chronic diseases and older adults are susceptible to adverse health outcomes in the heat, due to their reduced thermoregulatory capacity.”

He concluded: “It is timely and prudent that scientists and doctors collaborate even closer in this important field that cuts across a wide range of medical disciplines.”

The study has been published in the journal Pharmacological Reviews.

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