Having a Heatwave

cc Flikr Jim Legans, JrCan you suffer a heat related emergency indoors? On the hottest day of the year most Paramedics already know that the emergency 999 call volume will steadily climb in direct relation to the outside temperature. A mini heat wave means health agencies issuing warnings to stay hydrated and the sales of factor 50 suntan lotion rocketing. For the average Paramedics the day is a long drawn out shift in the back of a vehicle with poor or no air conditioning at all. Unlike most of the “normal” working population in their climate controlled office, the Paramedic does feel the heat. But what about that elderly population, insulated in their small poorly ventilated one bedroom boxed room, the thermostat routinely stuck on high.  

Does outdoor and indoor temperature have an impact on the number of cardiac or respiratory emergency calls we attend?  Although I am unable to answer that question I did find this journal paper that suggests a link to “Indoor heat exposure”. Which got me to think about heat exposure in the elderly who will spend most of the day indoors during a heatwave. Is that always the better place to be for them?

Here is a journal abstract/article I spotted with some more background and detail.
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“Summer Indoor Heat Exposure and Respiratory and Cardiovascular Distress Calls in New York City, NY U.S”
Uejio, Christopher K. Tamerius, James D. Vredenburg, Jeffrey. Asaeda, Glenn.Isaacs, Douglas A. Braun, James. Quinn, Ashlinn. Freese, John P. Available from: Wiley Online Library


Abstract: Most extreme heat studies relate outdoor weather conditions to human morbidity and mortality. In developed nations, individuals spend ~90% of their time indoors. This pilot study investigated the indoor environments of people receiving emergency medical care in New York City, New York U.S. from July to August 2013. The first objective was to determine the relative influence of outdoor conditions as well as patient characteristics and neighborhood sociodemographics on indoor temperature and specific humidity (N=764). The second objective was to determine if cardiovascular or respiratory cases experience hotter and more humid indoor conditions as compared to controls. Paramedics carried portable sensors into buildings where patients received care to passively monitor indoor temperature and humidity. The case-control study compared 338 respiratory cases, 291 cardiovascular cases, and 471 controls. Intuitively, warmer and sunnier outdoor conditions increased indoor temperatures. Older patients who received emergency care tended to occupy warmer buildings. Indoor specific humidity levels quickly adjusted to outdoor conditions. Indoor heat and humidity exposure above a 26 °C threshold increased (OR: 1.63, 95% CI: 0.98-2.68, p=0.056), but not significantly, the proportion of respiratory cases. Indoor heat exposures were similar between cardiovascular cases and controls.


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