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J Korean Soc Emerg Med > Volume 23(5); 2012 > Article
Journal of The Korean Society of Emergency Medicine 2012;23(5): 687-695.
Characteristics of Summer Heatwave Victims of Emergency Department Visits in Korea During 2011: Results from the Surveillance System of Heat-related Illness Based on Emergency Department
Soo Nam Jo, Si Heon Kim, Sun Ja Kim, Sung Hoon Jung, Yunhwan Lee, Wonwoong Na, Jae Yeon Jang, Kyoung Jun Song
1Korea Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Chungbuk, Korea.
2Ministry of Health & Welfare, Suwon, Korea.
3Department Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Ajou University School of Medicine, Suwon, Korea. free5293@gmail.com
4Institute on Aging, Ajou University Medical Center, Suwon, Korea.
5Department of Emergency Medicine, Seoul National University Boramae Medical Center, Seoul, Korea.
The aim of this study was to examine characteristics of health-related victims identified through the Surveillance System of Heat-related Illness (SSHI) based on emergency department (ED) visits.
Between July 1 and September 3 of 2011, 443 heat-related patients were reported by 396 of the 461 EDs participating in the SSHI. Heat-related illness included heat (sun) stroke, heat cramp, heat syncope, and heat exhaustion. A hot day was defined as a day above 30degrees C of daily maximum temperature in locations of provincial and metropolitan government offices. We used chi square test for identification of risk factors associated with Heat-related illness in the workplace and heat-related illness heat (sun) stroke.
Heatwave, defined as lasting three or more hot days, occurred three times during this period. The daily average number of heat-related patients reported during the heatwave period was 15.7 per day, more than four times the usual rate. The daily maximum temperature showed positive correlation with occurrence of heat-related illness. Heat exhaustion was the most frequent cause (46.0%), with approximately 70% of all cases occurring between noon and 6 p.m. The number of people suffering from heat-related illness while outdoors was three times greater than that of those who experienced it indoors. Work-related occurrence comprised 56.7% of all cases. All six deaths occurred during the heatwave period and were work-related.
Working conditions, outdoor activities, and old age may be associated with health-related illnesses. A surveillance system that monitors emergency room visits may be useful in assessment of adverse health effects of summer heatwaves.
Key words: Climate change, Heat wave, Heat stroke, Emergency department
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