Poor, uninsured, rural, elderly at risk for heat-related illness

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Aug. 4, 2008

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Those who live in poor communities, have no insurance or are older than 65 have a higher risk of developing hyperthermia requiring a hospital stay than those who reside in wealthier environments, carry insurance or are younger. Rural inhabitants also are more at risk than urbanites, according to a statistical brief by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Researchers analyzed data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. Approximately 6,200 hospitalizations were heat-related and led to 180 deaths in 2005.

Those from the poorest communities had double the risk. Those who were older than 65 had 15 times the risk compared with those younger than 18. About 17% did not have insurance. This is much more than the overall rate for uninsured hospital stays, 6%.

Large metropolitan areas had an incident rate of two hospital stays for temperature-related health problems per 100,000 population, but rural areas had a case rate of three to four per 100,000.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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