Adults aged 18–64 may be more affected by extreme heat than the elderly.


Adults aged 18–64 may be more affected by extreme heat than the elderly.

According to a new study, days of intense heat were linked to an increased incidence of emergency room visits among persons aged 18 to 64, compared to adults aged 75 and up.

Extreme heat, which is a primary cause of weather-related mortality in the United States, is becoming a greater concern to the public as days of extreme heat are predicted to grow more frequent, more intense, and longer-lasting as a result of climate change’s ongoing consequences. Although the negative health effects of heat have been well documented in elderly people, less is known about the effects of heat on young and middle-aged people.

A recent study performed by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) experts has discovered that the effects of excessive heat appear to be more pronounced in young and middle-aged Americans than in elderly ones.

The study, which was published in The British Medical Journal, looked at the link between extreme temperatures and emergency department (ED) visits. It found that days of extreme heat were associated with a higher risk of ED visits for any reason, heat-related illness, renal disease, and mental disorders among all adults, but the strongest link was found among those aged 18 to 64.

Previous research on the health effects of heat has mostly focused on death or hospital admissions among the elderly. This is the first national-scale assessment of the consequences of high heat on adults of all ages, as well as the first national study to look at emergency department visits as a marker of heat-related harm in all people.

“Many infections that lead to usage of the emergency department may not lead to hospitalization because they can be treated in a short amount of time,” says research senior author Dr. Gregory Wellenius, professor of environmental health and director of BUSPH’s Program on Climate and Health. “We intended to provide a more comprehensive picture of the true burden of disease that could be attributable to days of high heat by looking at emergency room visits.” From 2010 to 2019, Wellenius and colleagues analyzed anonymous healthcare utilization claims data in nearly 3,000 US counties to quantify the risk of ED visits for any reason and for specific conditions potentially associated with rising temperatures during the warm season (between May and September).

OptumLabs, a partnership research and innovation facility with Brinkwire News Summary, provided the data.


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