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New Mexico Heat Stress Emergency Department Visits: Age-adjusted Rates by Year, May-September, 2010 to 2020

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Why Is This Important?

Over the last 71 years (1950-2021), maximum daily temperatures in New Mexico increased (data not shown). State land weather station data analysis using time series models reveal that high temperatures increased 0.04 degrees Fahrenheit each year during this period, for a total increase of 3 degrees Fahrenheit. This trend of increasing temperature is likely to continue, based on projections of the future climate of New Mexico derived from global and regional climate models with the assumption that global anthropogenic (human caused) emissions of greenhouse gases will continue to increase. Specifically, these climate models project the following changes in New Mexico climate over the next fifty to one hundred years: a) average air temperature will become substantially warmer by 6-12 degrees Fahrenheit (3.3-6.7 degrees Celsius) and b) there will be more episodes of extreme heat, heat waves and fewer episodes of extreme cold. As temperatures increase, the public health concern is heat-related illness. Anyone, regardless of age, sex, or health status may develop heat-related illness if engaged in intense physical activity and/or exposed to environmental heat, even in the dry environmental conditions of New Mexico. Humans maintain core body temperature in a narrow range around 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit). The normal physiologic response to rising core body temperature is to sweat and circulate blood closer to the skin surface to increase cooling. When heat exposure exceeds our capacity to cool and the core body temperature continues to rise, a range of heat-related adverse health effects can result. Although some of these signs and symptoms, such as heat-related cramps, syncope, and edema are relatively minor and readily treatable, they should be used as warning signs to immediately remove the affected individual from the exposure, in other words, get out of the heat. Other conditions such as heat exhaustion may progress to heat stroke, the most serious form of heat-related disease, which if untreated can result in death or permanent neurological impairment. The New Mexico Environmental Public Health Tracking Network (NMEPHTN) develops, monitors, and analyzes indicators of heat stress to document changes in morbidity and mortality over place and time due to heat, monitor vulnerable areas and New Mexico communities, and to inform and evaluate the results of local climate-adaptation strategies and, extreme heat warning systems. One of the heat stress morbidity indicators that is tracked are emergency department (ED) visits for heat stress.

Definition

An emergency department (ED) visit for health stress is defined as an illness of a New Mexico resident being treated in an acute care in-state hospital in an ED for treatment as an outpatient or placed in an acute care hospital (admitted) as an inpatient subsequent to treatment in the ED between May 1 to September 30, inclusive, during each year. Heat stress is defined as a constellation of explicit effects of hot weather on the body, including heat stroke, and sunstroke (hyperthermia), heat syncope or collapse, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat fatigue, heat edema, and other unspecified clinical effects attributed to excessive heat exposure. Cases of heat stress are classified as any primary or secondary diagnosis code included in the range of the International Classification of Diseases, 9th edition, Clinical Modification (ICD_9-CM) 992.0-992.9 or cause of injury code in the range E900.0 or E900.9 or ICD-10-CMs T67, X30, or X32 (excluding cases with a code W92). However, cases with a code of E900.1 (man-made source of heat) anywhere in the patient medical record are excluded. Measures include 1) the number of ED visits for heat stress; 2) crude rate of ED visits for heat stress per 100,000 population; and 3) age-adjusted rate of ED visits for heat stress per 100,000 population (adjusted by the direct method to the 2000 US standard population).

Data Notes

Data for years 2011-2020.

Data Sources

  • Emergency Department (ED) dataset, Health Systems Epidemiology Program, New Mexico Department of Health
  • New Mexico Population Estimates: University of New Mexico, Geospatial and Population Studies (GPS) Program.
    (http://gps.unm.edu/)

How the Measure is Calculated

  • Numerator:

    Number of patients treated in ED between May 1 and September 30, inclusive, for each year, where heat stress is any primary or other diagnosis.
  • Denominator:

    Midyear New Mexico resident population.

Data Issues

  • Emergency Department (ED) dataset

    ICD Stands for 'International Classification of Diseases.' It is a coding system maintained by the World Health Organization and the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics and is used to classify diagnoses for hospital and emergency department visits. This coding system underwent a major revision from version 9 (ICD9) to version 10 that went into effect October 1, 2015. In most cases, the two versions do not provide comparable results and the two time periods should not be combined in a trend line. The emergency department data include visits to NON-FEDERAL HOSPITALS only. Visits to Veteran's Administration (VA) facilities and Indian Health Service (IHS) facilities have not been included, unless specifically stated otherwise. The data include all emergency department visits. An individual will be counted more than once if he or she had more than one visit over the time period. The emergency department dataset includes only New Mexico residents hospitalized in New Mexico hospitals, and may undercount injury ED visits of New Mexico residents. In cases of serious injuries near the state borders, oftentimes patients will be transported to a nearby trauma center in the bordering state.

  • New Mexico Population Estimates

    All population estimates apply to July 1 of the selected year. These estimates are considered the most accurate estimates for the state of New Mexico and should match those found on the University of New Mexico Geospatial and Population Studies website. Estimates include decimal fractions. Census tract population estimates were summed to produce County and Small Area population estimates. Population estimate totals may vary due to rounding. Population estimates for previous years are occasionally revised as new information becomes available. When publishing trend data, always be sure that your rates for earlier years match current rates on NM-IBIS that have been calculated with the most up-to-date population estimates.

Health Topic Pages Related to: Heat Stress Emergency Department Visits

Community Health Resources and Links





Medical literature can be queried at the PubMed website.

Indicator Data Last Updated On 04/20/2022, Published on 05/09/2022
Environmental Health Epidemiology Bureau, Environmental Public Health Tracking Program, Epidemiology and Response Division, New Mexico Department of Health, 1190 S. Saint Francis Drive, Suite 1304, Santa Fe, NM 87505, Srikanth Paladugu, Bureau Chief, Srikanth.Paladugu@state.nm.us, Stephanie Moraga-Mchaley, Environmental Epidemiologist Supervisor, Stephanie.Moraga-Mc@state.nm.us ,or Brian Woods, Environmental Epidemiologist, brian.woods@state.nm.us