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Identify vulnerable patients now for heatwaves, said government

The government has this week updated its guidance for health professionals on planning patients for a heatwave, and recommends this is done by early June if possible. 

Heatwaves are a risk as when the ambient temperature is higher than skin temperature, the only effective heat-loss mechanism is sweating. Therefore, any factor that reduces the effectiveness of sweating such as dehydration, lack of breeze, tight-fitting clothes or certain medications can cause the body to overheat.

The main causes of illness and deathduring a heatwave are respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. People withdiabetes, heart conditions, respiratory or renal insufficiency, Parkinson's disease or severe mental illness are also very at risk. This group is more vulnerable if they are on medication that potentially affects renal function, sweating, thermoregulation or electrolyte balance.

Other people who are vulnerable are those who cannot adapt their behavior to keep cool, for example those with Alzheimer's, a disability, who are bed bound, have had too much alcohol, the elderly (aged over 75), babies and the very young.

Also be aware of those who living in a top floor flat, who are homeless, or have activities or jobs that are in hot places or outdoors and include high levels of physical exertion, the guidance said.

See the full recommendations here