Heat taking toll on vulnerable populations

Posted Sept. 01, 2010, at 8:37 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — This week’s heat, humidity and poor air quality are posing health risks for many Mainers, chief among them the elderly, young children, and people with respiratory or cardiac problems.

On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor said the steamy weather was having an adverse effect.

“In the Emergency Department, we are seeing an increase in [the number of] people coming in for heat-related illnesses, generally in the elderly and young populations,” Tricia Denham said Wednesday afternoon.

That did not surprise Mary Jude, a nurse practitioner at EMMC’s Walk-In Care Center on Union Street.

While Jude said most heat-related ailments can be prevented by staying cool, resting and drinking plenty of fluids, she recommended that anyone suffering from a change in mental status or rapid or shallow breathing seek medical attention.

Jude said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a good source of information about heat-related health risks as well as tips for beating the heat. That and other information can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/features/extremeheat/.