Emergency department visits: facts & figures

Heat-related illness emergency department visits in Minnesota:

Heat can cause acute illness that can sometimes require an emergency department visit (ED visit). 

ED visit data includes patients that were treated in the ED and then either released or hospitalized for further care. ED visit data include more patients than hospitalization data because most people visit the ED first.

ED visits due to heat are sometimes not coded as heat-related, which can mean that the data underestimate heat-related ED visits.


Heat-related illness ED visit rates and summer temperature


For months May-September. Source ED Visits: Minnesota Hospital Association. Heat index data source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS)  

Heat index combines temperature and humidity to better measure what the temperature feels like to the human body. On days with high temperature and humidity, we may feel hotter than expected from the temperature on its own. Heat index and heat-related illness are related, in addition to other risk factors


Heat-related illness ED visits in Minnesota


Source: Minnesota Hospital Association.

Summertime heat-related ED visits vary widely from year to year.


Heat-related illness ED visits in Minnesota, by age


Source: Minnesota Hospital Association.

This chart shows ED visits by age group. Though the number and rate change year to year, trends show that 15-34 year olds and adults over 65 consistently have higher rates of heat-related ED visits than other age groups.


Heat-related illness ED visits in Minnesota, by sex and age


Source: Minnesota Hospital Association. 2010-2014.

While people 65 years old and older are considered the most sensitive to heat, this chart indicates that males age 15 to 34 have the highest rate of heat-related illness ED visits. This differs from the hospitalization data where males age 65 years old and older had the highest rate of hospitalization.


Heat-related illness ED visits and Minnesota regions


Source: Minnesota Hospital Association. The Metro area is Anoka, Hennepin, Ramsey, Washington, Carver, Scott, and Dakota counties. The non-Metro area is all other counties in Minnesota.

Urban populations are generally considered at higher risk for heat-related illness due to the urban heat island effect. However, trends show that non-metro popuations in Minnesota consistently experience higher rates of heat-related ED visits compared to the metro population.

Some populations are more vulnerable to heat-related illness than others. Data on the percentage of vulnerable populations in townships throughout Minnesota are available under population vulernability.