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A man cools himself in a fountain to beat the heat. E.P.
Andalusian government activates plan to combat effects of extreme heat on health this summer
Health

Andalusian government activates plan to combat effects of extreme heat on health this summer

The preventative plan will focus on population groups at serious risk from high temperatures, such as people with cardiovascular and respiratory diseases

José Luis Piedra

Seville

Friday, 7 June 2024, 13:25

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The regional government of Andalucía has already implemented its new plan for the prevention of the effects of high temperatures on health for this summer, which will be operational until 30 September. However, it may be extended up to 15 days later if necessary.

The plan, which was addressed by the Andalusian government at its meeting on Tuesday, 4 June, aims to reduce the health impact of extreme heat on the population, as numerous epidemiological studies show a significant increase in mortality above a certain thermal threshold. Extremely high temperatures have been shown to have a direct impact on mortality from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

The plan, established in coordination with the national ministry of health, aims to reduce the impact of heat. It combines the necessary measures by the different administrations involved and establishes a system of coordination and information exchange between the institutions. The focus is on preventive efforts for populations at risk of morbidity and mortality due to high temperatures, identifying them and establishing personalised follow-up with existing resources.

The plan's strategy is based on the prediction of heatwaves based on the information provided daily by the state meteorological agency, while potential at-risk groups have been established and alerts for excess temperature have been defined.

Specifically, people over 65 years of age with one or more pathologies, such as COPD, heart failure, dementia, kidney failure, excessive obesity, hypertension, or diabetes mellitus, are considered to be at special risk. This also includes those who take medication such as diuretics, hypotensives, anticholinergics, antidepressants and psychotropic drugs. Additionally, people over 65 who live alone or with a spouse who is also over 65, with one or more of these pathologies and medications are considered to be at special risk.

Similarly, pregnant women, homeless people or those facing social exclusion, individuals with disabilities and other personal, environmental, social, or occupational risk factors, people included in the integrated care process for severe mental disorders, and children under four years old, especially infants, are also considered at risk. Special attention will also be given to the homes of elderly people, residential care homes and areas with high marginalisation.

To address this, the regional government relies on various programmes implemented by the agencies participating in the plan. These include the Andalusian health service, the emergency health centre 061, 'Salud Responde', the Andalusian telecare service, 112, and the Andalusian federation of municipalities and provinces.

The alert levels are categorised as follows: zero (no risk), one (low risk, yellow), two (medium risk, orange), and three (high risk, red). However, due to geographic variation, population adaptation, and protection habits and conditions, different threshold levels are established based on local data to detect or indicate an increase in the health effects of high temperatures.

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