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Risk Factors for Heat Exhaustion continued...

If you live in an urban area, you may be especially prone to develop heat exhaustion during a prolonged heat wave, particularly if there are stagnant atmospheric conditions and poor air quality. In what is known as the "heat island effect," asphalt and concrete store heat during the day and only gradually release it at night, resulting in higher nighttime temperatures.

Other risk factors associated with heat-related illness include:

  • Age. Infants and children up to age 4, and adults over age 65, are particularly vulnerable because they adjust to heat more slowly than other people.
  • Certain health conditions. These include heart, lung, or kidney disease, obesity or underweight, high blood pressure, diabetes, mental illness, sickle cell trait, alcoholism, sunburn, and any conditions that cause fever. People with diabetes are at increased risk of emergency room visits, hospitalization, and death from heat-related illness and may be especially likely to underestimate their risk during heat waves.
  • Medications. These include some medicines in the following classes: diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, stimulants, heart and blood pressure medications, and medications for psychiatric conditions.

Check with your doctor to see if your health conditions and medications are likely to affect your ability to cope with extreme heat and humidity.

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