Recent heat wave tied to spike in ED visits, CDC finds

Heat-related emergency department visits during a six-day period in June, when most of Oregon and Washington were under an excessive heat warning, were 16 times higher than the same period in 2019, a July 16 CDC report found. 

Researchers used a national database to analyze the number of heat-related ED visits in HHS Region 10, which includes Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. They compared numbers from May 1-June 30, 2021, to those from the same days in 2019. 

Findings showed 3,504 heat-related ED visits occurred in the region throughout the study period, most of which occurred in Oregon and Washington between June 25-30, when much of the states were under heat advisories as temperatures reached 116 degrees. Such visits hit a peak on June 28 at 1,038. On the same day in 2019, just nine heat-related ED visits occurred in the region. Overall, the average daily number of such visits for the month of June 2021 was more than seven times higher than those in June 2019, and 69 times higher during the six-day heat advisory period. 

Men and people aged 75 and older accounted for most of the visits, the report found. 

"Health departments can develop and implement heat response plans, identify at-risk neighborhoods and populations, open cooling centers, and use data to guide public health policy and action to protect their communities from heat-related illness and deaths, especially among disproportionately affected populations," researchers said.

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