Heat stress and public health: a critical review

Annu Rev Public Health. 2008:29:41-55. doi: 10.1146/annurev.publhealth.29.020907.090843.


Heat is an environmental and occupational hazard. The prevention of deaths in the community caused by extreme high temperatures (heat waves) is now an issue of public health concern. The risk of heat-related mortality increases with natural aging, but persons with particular social and/or physical vulnerability are also at risk. Important differences in vulnerability exist between populations, depending on climate, culture, infrastructure (housing), and other factors. Public health measures include health promotion and heat wave warning systems, but the effectiveness of acute measures in response to heat waves has not yet been formally evaluated. Climate change will increase the frequency and the intensity of heat waves, and a range of measures, including improvements to housing, management of chronic diseases, and institutional care of the elderly and the vulnerable, will need to be developed to reduce health impacts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Air Conditioning
  • Greenhouse Effect*
  • Heat Stress Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Heat Stress Disorders* / etiology
  • Heat Stress Disorders* / prevention & control
  • Hot Temperature / adverse effects*
  • Housing / standards
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination
  • Public Health*
  • Residential Facilities / standards
  • Vulnerable Populations