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Heat-related emergency room visits surged in 2023, CDC says

The CDC says "heat-related illness will continue to be a significant public health concern" amid a warming climate.
Heat-related emergency room visits surged in 2023, CDC says
Posted at 12:22 PM, Apr 18, 2024

New Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data indicates that heat-related emergency room visits increased in 2023 in numerous regions throughout the U.S.

The CDC noted that extreme heat events are becoming more frequent and intense as much of the U.S. experienced record-breaking warmth last summer. The CDC said that populations are more exposed than ever before to extremely high temperatures for longer periods. 

The CDC said there were a total of 119,605 visits to the emergency room at U.S. hospitals involving heat-related illnesses in 2023. Of those, 92% occurred from May-September. Males were far more likely to seek treatment for heat illnesses than females. 

Data showed heat-related incidents accounted for 20% more emergency room visits in 2023 compared to the average of the five previous years. 

The CDC said that there were 271 emergency room visits involving heat illnesses per 100,000 male emergency room visits in 2023. Out 100,000 female emergency room visits, there were 104 such cases. 

SEE MORE: Climate change could depress global income by almost 20%, study shows

The CDC said the highest risk was in some Southern states, such as Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. 

CDC researchers said that those who work outside and are unable to escape the heat are most vulnerable. 

"Effective implementation of heat mitigation strategies is associated with social determinants of health," the CDC said. "For example, even in areas with high rates of air conditioning, such as the South and southeastern United States, persons exposed to extreme heat might have limited or no access to cooling spaces." 

The study comes as numerous multinational agencies have sounded the alarm on surging temperatures in the last year. 

"Heat-related illness will continue to be a significant public health concern as climate change results in longer, hotter, and more frequent episodes of extreme heat," the CDC said. "By monitoring heat-related health impacts, public health agencies can detect trends in health care utilization rates, identify subpopulations at increased risk, and guide public health actions tailored to specific heat exposure levels."

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