Days of Extreme Heat Linked to Increased Risk for ED Visits

Risk increased for emergency department visits for any cause and for heat-related illness, renal disease, mental disorders

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WEDNESDAY, Dec. 1, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Days of extreme heat are associated with an increased risk for emergency department visits for any cause, heat-related illness, renal disease, and mental disorders, according to a study published online Nov. 24 in The BMJ.

Shengzhi Sun, Ph.D., from the Boston University School of Public Health, and colleagues quantified the association between ambient heat and visits to the emergency department for any cause and cause-specific conditions in the United States. Data were included from 21,996,670 emergency department visits recorded among adults with health insurance living in 2,939 U.S. counties between May and September 2010 to 2019.

The researchers found that days of extreme heat (95th centile of the local warm season temperature distribution) were associated with a 7.8 percent excess relative risk for emergency department visits for any cause and with excess relative risks of 66.3, 30.4, and 7.9 percent for heat-related illness, renal disease, and mental disorders, respectively. The excess absolute risk of emergency department visits for heat-related illness in association with days of extreme heat was 24.3 per 100,000 people at risk per day. There was no association for heat with a higher risk for emergency department visits for cardiovascular or respiratory diseases. Among men and in counties in the Northeast of the United States or with a continental climate, the associations were more pronounced.

"This information might be useful to clinicians, public health officials, and the public considering the potential for more frequent and severe extreme heat events attributable to the rapidly changing climate," the authors write.

One author disclosed receiving consulting income from the Health Effects Institute and Google.

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