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Overheated patients crowd Michigan emergency rooms
07.24.2012Heat waves can be a sweaty summertime nuisance, but related sicknesses like heat stroke, exhaustion and to a lesser extent heat syncope, can be very serious and require immediate care. Occasionally, heatwaves present real danger, as is the case in Michigan.
During the second 10 day period of Michigan's current heatwave, heat-related emergency room visits across the state skyrocketed by 89 percent, according to a statement from the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH). On the hottest of the 10 days, July 7, 115 people were received emergency medicine care for related illness.
"Anyone can be overcome by extreme heat, but some people are at higher risk than others," Dr. Dean Sienko, interim chief medical executive for the MDCH, said in a statement. "Chronic illnesses like heart and lung disease, diabetes, and any illness that may cause dehydration can exacerbate heat-related illnesses. This is why it's so important that we check on family and friends during a heat wave."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heat exhaustion can be caused by excessive sweat leading to dehydration. The elderly are particularly at risk for this condition. Heat stroke is caused when body temperature rises so quickly the perspiration mechanism fails and there's no way for the body to cool down. It can set in quickly and requires emergency treatment, as it could be fatal. The MDCH's statement says that 30 people nationwide have died from the heatwave, and notes that most of them were elderly.
Safety tips provided by the MDCH include hiding out in air conditioned locations, engaging in water-related activities like swimming, wearing loose fitting clothes, heavy hydration, and checking on any aging friends or family members with health conditions. Under no circumstances should children or pets be left locked in a car.
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