Health Department Reports First Heat-Related Death

LITTLE ROCK - The Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Health (DOH) is confirming the first heat-realted death in the state this year.  This person was middle-aged and resided in the central area of the state. Last year in Arkansas there were seven heat-related deaths, and eleven were recorded in 2005.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevetion, from 1979-2003, excessive heat exposure caused 8,015 death in the United States.  While the elderly, people with health problems, and very young children are the most vulnerable, heat can affect anyone -- even stong, healthy athletes can be stricken.

Several factors affect the body's ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather.  When the humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releaing heat quickly.  Other conditions related to risk include age, obesity, fever, dehyration, heart disease, mental illness, porr circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use.

Our bodies are cooled primarily by losing heat through the skin by perspiration and evaporation.  Problems occur when we are unable to shed excess heat. When our heat gain exeeds the amount we can get rid of, our temperature begins to rise and heat-related illness my develop.

For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.