A higher rate of patients were treated for heat exhaustion, heatstroke and heat stress in every month of 2021 when compared to 2016. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 13 (UPI) -- A higher rate of patients were treated for heat exhaustion, heatstroke and heat stress in every month of 2021 when compared to 2016.
That is what a report by FAIR Health found when looking at trends in heat-related illnesses. By studying a repository of healthcare claims, researchers found that each month between May and September 2021 saw a higher rate of patients experiencing heat-related illnesses compared to the same months in 2016.
The increases coincide with annual rising temperatures which have been marked over the course of a century. With global warming projected to ramp up even further in the next two decades, awareness of the dangers of over-exertion due to heat will become more integral.
The Centers for Disease Control reports an average of 702 annual heat-related deaths. More than 67,000 people go to the emergency room due to a heat-related illness each year and more than 9,000 are hospitalized.
Heat exhaustion saw the greatest increase in 2021, occurring at a 50% higher rate than in 2016. About 1.26% of patients who received medical services were treated for heat exhaustion.
The older the patients, the more prevalent heat-related illnesses were. People 65 and older were treated at twice the rate of any other age group.
Males were more likely to need treatment than females, making up 52% of cases. The biggest gap between males and females was found in patients between 55 and 64 years old.
"The findings in this report have implications for all healthcare stakeholders concerned with heat-related illnesses, including patients, providers, payors and policy makers," said Robin Gelburd, FAIR Health President. "FAIR Health hopes that these findings will also be starting points for further research on heat-related illnesses."
Heat exhaustion, heatstroke and heat stress share some symptoms but not all. The guidance to prevent each is similar though, including drinking a lot of fluids, taking breaks from intense work and wearing light clothing.
Heat-related illnesses can lead to respiratory and cardiovascular problems among other serious health issues.