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regular-article-logo Friday, 19 July 2024

Sharp rise in casualties, heatstroke cases in hospitals as heat wave batters Delhi

According to the LNJP Hospital authorities, four patients have died due to suspected heatstroke in the last two days

PTI New Delhi Published 19.06.24, 09:10 PM
A patient admitted due to heat stroke and exhaustion undergoes treatment at LNJP hospital, in New Delhi.

A patient admitted due to heat stroke and exhaustion undergoes treatment at LNJP hospital, in New Delhi. PTI picture.

Hospitals in Delhi are witnessing a spike in casualties and heatstroke cases as a brutal heat wave continues to batter the national capital, officials of health facilities said on Wednesday.

A senior police officer also said that amid persisting heat wave, bodies of more than 26 people belonging to underprivileged socioeconomic backgrounds have been found in five districts of the national capital in the last 48 hours, even as the cause of deaths is yet to be ascertained.

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The officer said the body of a 55-year-old man was found at the Children's Park near India Gate on Wednesday, adding that a postmortem examination will be conducted to know the exact cause of death.

An NGO, Centre for Holistic Development, which works for homeless people, claimed that 192 homeless deaths were recorded due to heat wave in Delhi from June 11 to 19.

At the Centre-run RML Hospital, the authorities received 22 patients in the last two days. There have been five deaths and 12 to 13 patients are on ventilator support.

"The victims did not have any co-morbidities. When such people come to the hospital, their core body temperature is recorded and, if it is found more than 105 degrees Fahrenheit and there is no other cause, they are declared as heatstroke patients.

"Those who succumb to heatstroke are declared as 'suspected heatstroke'. There is a committee of the Delhi government that later confirms the deaths," a senior hospital official said.

To ensure immediate cooling of the body, the hospital has set up a first-of-its-kind heatstroke unit.

"The unit has cooling technology and the patients are kept in baths filled with ice and water. When their body temperature goes below 102 degrees Fahrenheit, they are monitored.

"If they are stable, they are shifted into the ward. Otherwise, they are put on a ventilator. Most of the patients who are admitted are labourers," the official added.

At the Safdarjung Hospital, there have been a total of 60 heatstroke cases, including 42 who have been admitted. The hospital has reported six casualties, including a 60-year-old woman and a 50-year-old man who died on Tuesday.

According to the LNJP Hospital authorities, four patients have died due to suspected heatstroke in the last two days.

"There were two deaths on Tuesday due to suspected heatstroke and two casualties on Wednesday. There are 16 heatstroke patients who have been admitted," said a hospital official.

One of the victims, aged around 39, died during treatment on June 15. He was a motor mechanic who collapsed while working at his shop in Janakpuri. He was brought in with high-grade fever.

Speaking on heatstroke symptoms, a senior hospital official said patients sometimes collapse due to dehydration.

They also suffer from very high fever, which causes the body temperature to reach 106 to 107 degrees Fahrenheit, he added.

The Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi is witnessing 30 to 35 heatstroke cases at its outpatient department (OPD) daily.

"At the OPD, medical facilities are reporting between every week 30 to 35 cases related to heat-induced ailments. These include conditions such as heat cramp and heat exhaustion," said Dr Atul Kakar, chairperson of the hospital's Department of Internal Medicine.

"This surge in cases highlights the importance of public awareness about heat safety measures, including staying hydrated, seeking shade during peak sun hours and understanding the signs of heat-related distress. Healthcare providers are on alert, ensuring prompt and effective treatment to manage and mitigate the impact of rising temperatures on public health," he added.

The heat wave is causing an increase in the prevalence of lupus that affects the skin, joints and kidneys, among other organs. People who have lupus frequently experience flare-ups and increased symptoms as the temperature rises.

Six to 10 cases of lupus were detected due to the prolonged heat wave. SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus) or lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body's own system is targeted, leading to multiple-organ affection and damage. It primarily affects women and that too in their child-bearing age between 15 and 45, said Dr Lalit Duggal, a senior consultant of rheumatology and clinical immunology at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

Lupus is a highly complex disease, the cause of which is unknown. Several environmental factors can be possible triggers on an underlying genetic background, he said.

Delhi experienced the warmest night in 12 years with the minimum temperature on Wednesday settling at 35.2 degrees Celsius, eight notches above normal, the weather office said.

The maximum day temperature was recorded at 43.6 degrees Celsius, 4.8 notches above the season's average.

Meanwhile, police said they are getting PCR calls regarding unnatural deaths of people like security guards, beggars or underprivileged people.

"The actual reason behind the deaths can only be known after postmortem. But no doubt we are getting PCR calls regarding deaths," a senior police officer said.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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