Prevention and Risk Factors

Risk factors for severe heat-related illness
Extremes of age
Underlying chronic ill health and debility (esp. cardiac, respiratory and neurological)
Mental illness
Drugs (diuretics, beta-blockers, alcohol, stimulants, phenothiazines, anticholinergics)
Lack of air-conditioning (lower socioeconomic groups)
Occupational (miners, fire fighters, military recruits)

Prevention of heat-related illness and death involves identifying those individuals most at risk.

In the UK most deaths are in people over the age of 70 years and occur in the first few days of a heat wave. The table shown highlights the risk factors for severe heat-related illness.

Various strategies are required if heat-related illness and death are to be prevented. A public health plan was implemented in Europe after the heat wave in 2003. Level three of the plan requires primary care trusts to:

Commission additional care and support, involving at least daily contact for at-risk individuals living at home.”

Heat Waves and Health Protection [7].

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