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Heat illness occurs when the body becomes too hot and is no longer able to regulate its own temperature. Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are three of the most common types of heat illness. Adults aged 65 or older are particularly vulnerable to the effects of excessive heat because they are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature.
What to Know
A number of medications are affected by heat, including antidepressants, diuretics, blood pressure medicine and more.
The most dangerous place for heat is in a house with little or no air conditioning. 1/3 of deaths during the 2005 heat wave in Arizona happened indoors; 81% of these fatalities were older adults.
Individuals with cardiovascular conditions, respiratory conditions, diabetes and obesity can be more vulnerable to heat.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federally funded program that helps low-income households pay their utility bills. Higher priority is given to adults aged 60 or older and individuals with disabilities.
Ways to help yourself and others
- Stay in air-conditioned buildings
- Find air-conditioned shelters
- Avoid direct sunlight
- Check on those most at risk twice a day
- Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink more fluids
- Remind others to drink enough water
- Check the local news for health and safety updates
- Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you
- Seek medical care immediately if you or someone you know has symptoms of heat-related illness (cramps, headaches, nausea or vomiting)
Source: Arizona Department of Health Services: Older Adult Toolkit
By Brett Bezio