Thu, Aug 02, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Everyone should know heatstroke risks, doctors say

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Sultry summer temperatures have caused a larger number of people to come down with heat-related illnesses, emergency medicine specialists said yesterday.

"We have been seeing more people coming in for heat exhaustion and strokes," said Choi Wai-mau (蔡維謀), the director of the department of emergency medicine at the Hsinchu Mackay Memorial Hospital. "Perhaps it has something to do with the record temperatures we have been seeing this summer."

Choi, speaking at a Bureau of Health Promotion (BHP) press conference publicizing the danger of heatstrokes, urged people to be aware that those around them might be affected the heat.

"Those in rural areas are especially at risk, because of the lack of access to medical care and the greater possibility they might fall ill while no one else is around," he said. "Urban dwellers tend to seek medical treatment before their condition becomes too serious."

Several farmers have died in their fields this summer from heat exhaustion or strokes, including an 83-year-old man who collapsed from heat stroke and fell into an irrigation ditch.

Choi say that previous efforts to warn the public have not reduced the flood of people with heat-related problems seeking help in his emergency room.

INDOOR RISK

Jackson Choy (蔡卓城), chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Taipei Medical University Hospital, warned that it was also possible to suffer from heatstroke while working indoors.

He cited the case of a young woman surnamed Wang () who fell ill while waterproofing a concrete ceiling at a poorly ventilated worksite.

"It's of paramount importance to keep the air circulating [indoors]," Choy said.

"Fortunately she was sent to the hospital before any permanent damage was done to her organs or central nervous system," he said.

NUMBERS QUESTIONED

According to bureau figures there have been 11 heat stroke fatalities in the past two months.

Choy, however, suspects that the real number could be higher.

"Unless the person was found dead on the side of the road, they are not usually counted as heat exposure victims," he said. "The cause of death might be recorded as kidney or massive organ failure instead."

"I think the number of deaths resulting from heat exposure this summer is a lot higher than 11," he said.

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