Health problems

Explanation of the problem

Heat affects people’s health, ranging from muscle cramps to an accelerated heart rate or heatstroke. During heat stress, the body tries to dissipate body heat through sweating and vasodilation (widening of blood vessels). Sometimes these cooling mechanisms are insufficient, such as in the case of older individuals who experience thirst less quickly and small children whose bodies heat up faster than adults. Users of certain medications may also struggle to maintain their body temperature. Other vulnerable groups include individuals with weak health, chronic illnesses, patients in nursing or care homes, elderly people living at home, those with heart, vascular, or respiratory conditions, diabetes patients, homeless individuals, athletes, participants in events, and people working outdoors.
Health problems can result in additional pressure on healthcare and emergency services, more hospital admissions, and even

Information and maps for better understanding

Basic maps according to the standardized stress test

  • Map showing the number of warm nights per year (Climate Impact Atlas) → provides insight into the number of warm nights in built-up areas, now and in the future. When it’s warm at night, buildings may not cool down sufficiently, keeping the indoor temperature high. This can lead to health problems.
  • Detailed heat map of the perceived temperature on a hot day Climate Impact Atlas) → provides insight into the daytime locations where it is so hot that people may experience health issues and shows where there is a lack of cool places.

Additional maps

  • Map showing the number of summer or tropical days now and in the future (Climate Impact Atlas) → provides an indication of the increase in problems related to heat-related health issues.
  • Maps with information about buildings (such as construction year and energy labels) → to estimate which buildings are poorly insulated and heat up earlier, leading to health issues.
  • Maps with information about vulnerable groups (such as Climate Impact Atlas|Impacts| Severely lonely people aged 75+) → to estimate where vulnerable groups live that may experience health problems due to heat.

Some measures and guidelines

  • Behavioural adjustments: drink enough water, wear light clothing, stay out of the sun (see also the infographic from infographic from the Public Health Service Amsterdam (GGD)(in Dutch), tips from the Red Cross, and tips from the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM).
  • Implement heat protocol; organize care for vulnerable people.
  • Activate the National heatwave plan or a local heatwave plan.
  • Develop a heatwave plan for/with volunteer organizations.
  • Modify buildings to better protect against heat (see comfort in building).
  • Spatial adaptation to keep outdoor temperature and perceived temperature low (see comfort in the city).