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Hospitalization in Heatwave Affects Long-Term Health

Heatstroke compromises long-term functionality in those who survive

MONDAY, Aug. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly patients who reside in institutions, are bedridden, use antihypertensive medication or have psychiatric illnesses are at greater risk of death during heatwaves than those who are able to leave their home daily, have more social connections and make greater use of baths, fans and air conditioners to keep cool, according to two studies published online Aug. 13 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

In one study, Laurent Argaud, M.D., Ph.D., of the Lyon-Nord Medical School in Lyon, France, and colleagues followed 83 patients (84 percent aged 70 or older) admitted for heatstroke during the August 2003 heatwave. Mortality rates at 28 days and at two years were 58 percent and 71 percent, respectively. Prognosis was influenced by organ failure at admission, as well as residence in an institution and long-term use of antihypertensive drugs. Patients who survived were no longer able to live independently.

In the second study, Abderrezak Bouchama, M.D., of King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and colleagues analyzed six case-control studies involving 1,065 heatwave deaths. Bedridden patients (odds ratio, 6.44), those who didn't leave home daily (OR, 3.35), or who were unable to care for themselves (OR, 2.97) were at greater mortality risk, as were those with psychiatric illness (3.61).

"Our findings emphasize the necessity for future improvements in outcome by means of enhancing pre-hospital prevention and providing rapid and aggressive therapy to patients at high risk of death at admission," Argaud and colleagues conclude.

Abstract - Argaud
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Abstract - Bouchama
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