More emergency hospital trips when extreme heat hits, study finds

The finding was true among older and younger adults.

People on a beach
People on a beach

Older people and younger adults are at a higher risk of needing emergency care when extreme heat hits, according to a new study.

On particularly hot days health officials in the UK issue weather warnings urging people to stay safe in the heat.

These include actions on how to stay cool and advice to check on the elderly, people with heart or lung conditions and others who struggle to keep themselves cool and hydrated.

But a new study suggests that it might not just be the elderly who are at risk of extremely hot weather.

A group of researchers from the US and Canada examined data on emergency department visits following spells of heat.

Almost 22 million emergency department visits were recorded during the warm season between 2010 and 2019 among 74 million Medicare healthcare beneficiaries from across the US.

Days of extreme heat were linked to a 7.8% increased risk of an emergency department visit.

Researchers noted a 30% increased risk of emergency department visits for kidney disease and a 7.9% increased risk for mental health issues.

There was a 66% increased risk for heat-related illness on days of extreme heat, according to the study published in The BMJ

But extreme heat was not associated with a higher risk of emergency department visits for heart or lung diseases.

“Among both younger and older adults, days of extreme heat are associated with a higher risk of emergency department visits for any cause, heat-related illness, renal disease and mental disorders,” the authors wrote.

“These results suggest that the adverse health effects of extreme heat are not limited to older adults and carry important implications for the health of adults across the age spectrum.

“The present study adds to the existing literature on the health effects of heat by showing that adults of all ages are at increased risk of heat-related health effects rather than just elderly people.”

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