Heat-Related Illness and Deaths


Due to the record number of Excessive Heat Warnings issued by the National Weather Service, LDH has been monitoring heat-related emergency department visits and heat-related deaths. Governor John Bel Edwards issued a state of emergency due to excessive heat on August 14. Exposure to excessive heat can result in heat-related illness (HRI), or hyperthermia. HRI occurs when the body cannot cool itself sufficiently through sweating. HRI ranges in severity from mild such as heat rash and heat cramps, to severe such as heat exhaustion and life-threatening heatstroke. All Louisiana residents should follow the heat-related guidance published by LDH’s Office of Public Health. Healthcare providers should refer to the Health Alert Network message issued on August 2.

Deaths reported to the Bureau of Vital Records contain information in the record that indicates the primary or contributing cause of death was recorded as either hyperthermia or heat-related. The information provided in a death record is sent to Vital Records through an online system called LEERS. Total numbers of deaths per month and demographic data are subject to change, as death records are continually filed with Vital Records. In some cases, it can take eight weeks or more to finalize investigations and file death records. This is due to a number of factors, such as coroners awaiting investigative information like toxicology reports or autopsy results.

OPH’s Occupational Heat-Related Illness and Injury Program provides additional information on heat-related illness monitoring and prevention.