Many people with diabetes do not know or heed dangers of hot weather

Jun 21, 2010

A new survey shows that diabetic individuals who live in a hot climate have important gaps in their "heat awareness," or knowledge about proper diabetes self-care in hot weather, even though diabetes raises their risk of heat illness. The results of "Diabetes in the Desert: What Do Patients Know About the Heat?" will be presented Monday at The Endocrine Society's 92nd Annual Meeting in San Diego.

Researchers from Mayo Clinic in Arizona, in collaboration with the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service, surveyed patients at a Phoenix clinic and analyzed 152 surveys. Responses showed that people living with diabetes in hot climates need increased awareness of how heat affects their disease, said lead researcher Adrienne Nassar, MD, third-year medical resident at Mayo Clinic.

"People with diabetes have an impaired ability to sweat, which predisposes them to heat-related illness, as do uncontrolled, high blood sugars," Nassar said. "Many patients surveyed had suboptimal glycemic control during the summer, possibly increasing their risk of dehydration."

Past research shows that during hot weather people with diabetes have an increased number of emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths due to heat illness.

Yet one in five survey respondents said they would not take precautions until temperatures exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit. "Heat illness can take place at 80 to 90 degrees when you factor in the heat index," Nassar said.

Only about half of the patients knew the definition of the heat index—the combination of air temperature and humidity. High humidity makes heat more dangerous because it slows the evaporation of perspiration, the way the body cools itself.

Heat also can harm the effectiveness of diabetes medications and supplies. "Oral medications as well as insulin have a therapeutic temperature range above which they lose efficacy," Nassar said. The drug's package insert includes information about proper temperatures for storage.

Although 73 percent of respondents had received information about the harmful effect of heat on insulin, fewer knew about the adverse effects of heat on their oral diabetes medications (39 percent) and on glucose meters (41 percent) and glucose test strips (38 percent).

Even when survey respondents knew that they should protect their diabetes medications and glucose-testing supplies from heat, an alarming proportion—37 percent—chose to leave them at home rather than risk heat exposure.

"If they are unable to check their blood sugars while they are away from home, that's unsafe," Nassar said.

"Increasingly more people with diabetes are living in places characterized by hot weather. Patient education focusing on diabetes management in hot climates is needed," she said.

Explore further: Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Long heat waves boost hospital admissions

Aug 09, 2007

Summer heat waves significantly increase pressure on hospitals, according to research published in the online open access journal, BMC Public Health. The good news for hospital staff is that scorching weather must last four ...

FDA approves new diabetes treatment

Oct 17, 2006

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of Januvia tablets as the first in a new class of diabetes drugs.

Heat stress in older people and people with chronic diseases

Aug 24, 2009

People over the age of 60 are the most vulnerable to heat waves, with 82% to 92% more deaths than average occurring in this age group. Risks for heat-related illness or injury - such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat ...

Recommended for you

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

10 hours ago

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

US orders farms to report pig virus infections

Apr 18, 2014

The U.S. government is starting a new program to help monitor and possibly control the spread of a virus that has killed millions of pigs since showing up in the country last year.

Foreigner dies of MERS in Saudi

Apr 18, 2014

A foreigner has died after she contracted MERS in the Saudi capital, the health ministry said on announced Friday, bringing the nationwide death toll to 73.

Vietnam battles fatal measles outbreak

Apr 18, 2014

Vietnam is scrambling to contain a deadly outbreak of measles that has killed more than 100 people, mostly young children, and infected thousands more this year, the government said Friday.

New clues on tissue scarring in scleroderma

Apr 18, 2014

A discovery by Northwestern Medicine scientists could lead to potential new treatments for breaking the cycle of tissue scarring in people with scleroderma.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.