Heat has an impact on people’s health, ranging from muscle cramps to an accelerated heart rate or heatstroke. During a heatwave, the mortality rate in the Netherlands can increase by 12 percent. This translates to approximately 40 additional deaths per day compared to a period with lower temperatures.

In heat stress, the body tries to dissipate body heat through sweating and blood vessel dilation. Sometimes these cooling mechanisms are insufficient, especially in vulnerable groups such as the elderly, who may experience less frequent feelings of thirst, and young children, whose bodies heat up faster than adults. Users of certain medications may also struggle to maintain a constant body temperature. Other vulnerable groups include people with chronic illnesses, residents of nursing or care homes, individuals with cardiovascular or respiratory conditions, diabetes patients, homeless individuals, athletes, participants in events, and outdoor workers.

Simultaneously with climate change and an increase in hot days, there is a societal trend to, even in old age, remain living independently at home for as long as possible. More and more independently living older adults, who do not yet require intensive care, must cope on their own during hot days. As a result, independently living older adults become a high-risk group.

The mind map further elaborates on five consequences of heat on health: