Jeff Masters Weather Blog

People with Alzheimer’s disease face higher risks in heat waves » Yale Climate Connections

Millions of Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and they may be especially vulnerable when it’s hot.

Howard Chang is at Emory University Rollins School of Public Health. His team analyzed hospital data from California, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, and New York.

They found that when summer temperatures were high for three days in a row, people were more likely to visit the emergency department.

That was true for those with Alzheimer’s and the general population.

“But if you look at the degree of impact, we see that the Alzheimer’s ED visits showed a much stronger risk, a higher risk associated with temperature, and that is consistent across the five states,” Chang says.

There are several likely explanations.

“People with Alzheimer’s might have impaired judgment and decisions in terms of things like not keeping hydrated, wearing too much clothing, or even wandering on hot days,” he says.

Those with Alzheimer’s and related dementias also have higher rates of other conditions, like diabetes and heart disease, that can make them more vulnerable to heat.

So as the climate warms, it’s important to take extra steps to protect them.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media

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