Jun 19, 2020

Heat-Related Deaths — United States, 2004–2018

Ambarish Vaidyanathan, Josephine Malilay, Paul Schramm, Shubhayu Saha
MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

Study Key Findings

  • During 2004–2018, a total of 10,527 deaths resulting from exposure to heat-related conditions were identified.
  • Heat-related deaths varied from year to year, with highest rates observed over the 15-year period during 2006, 2011, and 2018.
  • Although Arizona, California, and Texas account for only approximately 23% of the U.S. population, these three states accounted for approximately one third (3,852; 37%) of heat-related deaths among U.S. residents.
  • Among all race/ethnicity groups, non-Hispanic whites had the highest number of heat-related deaths (6,602); however, non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Natives had the highest rate of heat-related deaths (0.6 per 100,000 population). Non-Hispanic blacks had the second highest number of heat-related deaths (1,965) and rate ( 0.3 per 100,000 population). 

Study Abstract

Deaths attributed to natural heat exposure represent a continuing public health concern. Preparedness and response initiatives that limit exposure during periods of extreme heat can reduce mortality.

During 2004–2018, an average of 702 heat-related deaths (415 with heat as the underlying cause and 287 as a contributing cause) occurred in the United States annually. Natural heat exposure was a contributing cause of death attributed to certain chronic medical conditions, alcohol poisoning, and drug overdoses.

A coordinated approach across health care sectors to prevent heat-related mortality can include conducting syndromic surveillance, developing and implementing heat response plans, facilitating communication and education activities, and operating cooling centers.