Australian Family Physician
Australian Family Physician


Volume 40, Issue 8, August 2011

Heatwaves and the elderly

Leigh Wilson Deborah Black Craig Veitch
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Heatwaves are increasing in frequency, intensity and duration, and are associated with an increase in mortality and morbidity, particularly in the very young and the very old. Concurrently, the Australian population is aging, with the prediction that by 2036 approximately 27% of Australians will be aged over 65 years.
This article reviews the evidence on heat related health risk and discusses the role of the general practitioner in reducing morbidity in older people as a result of heatwaves.
Heatwaves are associated with increased mortality and morbidity in people aged over 65 years, and more so in those aged over 75 years. Older people are more vulnerable to the effects of extreme heat through a range of physiological and physical factors. As key providers of healthcare to older people, GPs play a crucial role in identifying those at risk and implementing strategies to minimise the risks of mortality and morbidity during periods of extreme heat.

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