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ER visits for heat illness rose in 2023 amid record-breaking temperatures: CDC

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(NEW YORK) — Heat-related emergency room visits increased in 2023 in the U.S. compared to previous years, according to new federal data.

Between Jan. 1, 2023 and Dec. 31, 2023, there were a total of 119,605 ER visits for heat-related illnesses, with 92% of those visits occurring between May and September, according to a report published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

July and August had higher than average ER visits due to heat than other warm-season months, including May, June and September, according to the report, which looked at data of ER visits caused by heat in 2023 and compared it t visits between 2018 and 2022. These findings are “consistent with record-breaking temperatures observed … in 2023.” said the CDC.

The risk of heat-related ER visits during July and August 2023 was more than three times that seen in May, June, and September.

By comparison, the risk during July and August from 2018 to 2022 was about twice as high as in May, June and September of the same period.

The study also found some regions of the U.S. — as defined by the Department of Health and Human Services — saw higher risk in 2023 than others. The states of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas were most impacted with reported risk of nine times the risk of New York and New Jersey.

These regions also saw their daily ER visits for heat-related illness rates in 2023 exceed the 95th percentile reported between 2018 and 2022.

Every U.S. region saw at least one day in 2023 above the 95th percentile. In the southwestern and western U.S, heat-related ER visit rates in July 2023 exceeded the 2018 to 2022 95th percentile for 16 and 18 consecutive days, respectively.

Additionally, the southwestern and lower Midwestern U.S. experienced days with the highest rate of heat-related ER visits recorded for the respective region since 2018.

When broken down by sex and age, the report found more men than women sought care in ERs for heat-related illnesses in 2023 at a rate of 271 per 100,000 ER visits for males compared to 104 per 100,000 visits for females.

Adults between ages 18 and 64 also had higher rates in 2023 with a range of 207 to 222 per 100,000 visits compared to the range of 120 to 173 per 100,000 visits for adults aged 65 and older.

This data aligns with how extreme heat events in the U.S., and around the globe, are becoming more frequent and more intense. Summer 2023 was Earth’s hottest since global records began in 1880, according to NASA.

Several cities across the U.S. saw record-breaking triple-digit temperatures in summer 2023. El Paso, Texas, saw a record stretch of 44 consecutive days at or over 100 F in June and July, and Phoenix, Arizona saw a record of 31 days at 110 F or higher.

Additionally, Americans could see an average of 53 more days of extreme heat by 2050 if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t reduced, according to climate modeling data from the the ICF Climate Center.

“Deaths and illnesses associated with heat exposure are a continuing public health concern as climate change results in longer, hotter, and more frequent episodes of extreme heat,” the authors of the report wrote. “Near real-time monitoring of weather conditions and adverse health outcomes can guide public health practitioners’ timing of risk communication and implementation of prevention measures associated with extreme heat.”

ABC News’ Julia Jacobo contributed to this report.

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