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Morbidity and mortality associated with the July 1980 heat wave in St. Louis and Kansas City, MO.

Jones TS; Liang AP; Kilbourne EM; Griffin MR; Patriarca PA; Wassilak SG; Mullan RJ; Herrick RF; Donnell HD Jr.; Choi K; Thacker SB
JAMA J Am Med Assoc 1982 Jun; 247(24):3327-3331
The effects of hot weather on human health were investigated during the 1980 heat wave, centering in Missouri which was one of the areas most severely affected. Illnesses or deaths attributed to heat by attending medical personnel in hospitals or death records were defined as heat related for the purposes of this study and included heatstroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, as well as diagnoses such as angina pectoris exacerbated by heat. In Kansas City there were 17 consecutive days with maximum temperatures of 38.9 degrees-C or higher, including 10 days when the temperature was above 42.2 degrees-C. In St. Louis temperatures were 37.8 degrees-C or greater for 16 days. In St. Louis there were 859 resident deaths in July compared with 542 deaths in the similar period the year before. Figures for Kansas City were 598 versus 362. An increase of 14.3 percent was noted in the number of visits to emergency rooms in ten hospitals in July of 1980 for St. Louis compared to the previous year. A similar increase was noted in Kansas City. The city wide heatstroke rates were 26.5 for St. Louis and 17.6 for Kansas City per 100,000 population. Higher heatstroke rates occurred among the elderly, the poor, and nonwhites. Residents of low socioeconomic status census tracts independent of age and race had higher rates of heat related illness, particularly heatstroke. The relative lack of air conditioning or other cooling devices among this grouping of individuals may have contributed to this outcome.
NIOSH-Author; Heat-stress; Heat-exposure; Temperature-effects; Sociological-factors; Mortality-rates; Age-factors; Risk-analysis
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Journal of the American Medical Association
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division