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Health Effects Heat Stress - CDC Tracking Network

Heat Stress Illness and the Environment

Heat waves are a leading cause of extreme weather-related deaths in the United States. The number of heat-related deaths is rising. Across the planet in general, temperatures are rising, but changes are not occurring everywhere. In some places temperatures may stay the same or drop. As a result of the changing climate, serious weather events, like heat waves, happen more often. These changes have the potential to affect human health in several direct and indirect ways, some of them severe. Linking climate change to a specific health problem is difficult. However, the information CDC has used is a good starting point to track how climate change can affect your health.

Climate change is any major change that has been occurring for at least 10 years in the temperature, precipitation, wind, and other weather patterns that we measure.

An extreme heat event, or heat wave, is an extended period of time (several days or more) with unusually hot weather conditions that can potentially harm human health. When temperatures increase, communities across the United States are vulnerable to heat-related illnesses, such as cramps and heat exhaustion, which may lead to heat stroke and death.

Read this MMWR report for a summary of heat stress illness hospitalizations data.

  • Heat Stress Illness Hospitalizations - Environmental Public Health Tracking Program, 20 States, 2001-2010, MMWR. December 12, 2014 / 63(SS13);1-10.

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