Heat-Related Illness - Risk

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Who is at risk of heat-related illness?

Those at greatest risk of heat-related illness include:

  • infants and children up to four years of age,
  • people 65 years of age or older,
  • people who are overweight,
  • people who overexert during work or exercise,
  • people with mental illness, and
  • people who are chronically ill or on certain medications.

Infants and children up to four years of age are very sensitive to the effects of high temperatures and rely on others to regulate their environment and to provide adequate fluid intake. Moreover, they have a higher metabolic rate and inefficient sweating compared to adults.

People 65 years of age or older may not compensate for heat stress efficiently, and are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature. The elderly population also is at a higher risk because they usually have other pre-existing medical conditions, and they often take medications that can make them more vulnerable to dehydration.

Overweight people may be prone to heat-related illness because of their tendency to retain more body heat.

Any health condition that causes dehydration makes the body more susceptible to heat-related illness. If you or someone you know is at higher risk, it is important to drink plenty of fluids, avoid overexertion, and get your doctor or pharmacist's advice about medications being taken for:

  • high blood pressure,
  • mental illness,
  • insomnia, or
  • poor circulation.
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