MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - July 2012 was the 7th hottest July on record in the Mid-South. Excessive heat has lead to 5 heat-related deaths so far in Shelby County. The latest victims, a 33-year old man and a 64-year old woman, were found dead at their homes due to the heat. Temperatures had climbed into the upper 90’s during the last week of July with heat indices in the triple digits.
Doctors say young children and the elderly are most at risk from the heat, but that people in all age groups are still susceptible.
Dr. Stanley Thompson, Baptist Memorial Hospital Medical Director, says, “If you have certain medical conditions or you're on certain medicines, all of those things contribute to your intolerance to heat. If you add several of those factors together at one time, it doesn't matter about your age.”
Youth athletes and outdoor workers may see symptoms of heat faster, but many heat deaths happen during the night in homes with no air conditioning. Doctors say prolonged exposure to the heat can be a slow killer.
Emergency rooms visits have spiked at Mid-South hospitals with patients dealing with heat-related symptoms. Symptoms may begin as heat cramps or fatigue and can quickly escalate to heat stroke.
Doctors at Baptist Memorial Hospital Memphis have seen a few close calls from the heat. Some patients have been treated with central intravenous lines of fluid and external cooling packs. Heat-related illnesses are treatable, but can be prevented altogether by recognizing symptoms early.