Heat Wave Deaths Skyrocket As Hyperthermia Kills Dozens Across Northwest

North America has seen a dramatic increase in the number of sudden deaths after a record-breaking heat wave hit parts of the U.S. and Canada.

Temperatures soared in several areas in North America last weekend, as Washington saw the heat rise to well above 100F, and Portland, Oregon, recorded all-time highs for several days in a row, including 116F on Sunday.

Washington recorded a high of 119F in Chelan County, which is located east of the city of Seattle, as the temperature remained above 100F in parts of the state for several days.

In the town of Lytton in the Canadian province of British Columbia, the country's all-time hottest temperature record was broken three times, with the highest recorded on Tuesday at 121.28F.

This figure was much higher than the previous record in Canada of 113F that was set in Saskatchewan in 1937, according to Reuters.

The heat wave has been linked to an increase in the amount of sudden fatalities in the areas, as officials in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia have said that they are investigating hundreds of deaths that they believe have been caused by the increased temperatures.

British Columbia's chief coroner, Lisa Lapointe, told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the province received reports of at least 486 "sudden and unexpected deaths" between Friday and Wednesday, compared to an average of 165 they would normally see in that time frame.

"While it is too early to say with certainty how many of these deaths are heat related, it is believed likely that the significant increase in deaths reported is attributable to the extreme weather," LaPointe explained.

Oregon officials have so far linked 63 deaths to the heat wave, with 45 of those occurring since last Friday in Multnomah County, which includes the city of Portland.

Hyperthermia was reported as the preliminary cause for those 45 deaths. Between 2017 and 2019, the state of Oregon only recorded 12 deaths from hyperthermia, highlighting the dramatic increase during the heatwave.

Since June 25, Washington has recorded 1,384 emergency department visits, a spokesperson for the state's Department of Health told Newsweek on Wednesday.

They confirmed that around 21 percent of those visits, or 284, led to inpatient admission. The most heat-related admissions were recorded on June 28 with 688 emergency room visits.

"For people visiting the ED, top diagnoses include heat exhaustion, dehydration, effect of heat and light, dizziness/giddiness, and syncope and collapse," the spokesperson said in an email.

They added that the Department of Health is looking into three deaths potentially linked to the extreme temperatures over the past week.

TV station KREM also reported that the Spokane Fire Department in Washington found two people dead in an apartment building on Wednesday who had been suffering symptoms of heat-related stress.

The worst of the heat has subsided in the areas in North America, as Washington is expecting highs of 74F Thursday, while Oregon is forecast to see 80F and British Columbia 74F.

However, in a statement on Wednesday, Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines raised concerns about future issues, saying that the temperatures over the past week caused "a true health crisis that has underscored how deadly an extreme heat wave can be.

"As our summers continue to get warmer, I suspect we will face this kind of event again."

Heatwave in Canada and US
People and their pets rest at the Oregon Convention Center cooling station in Oregon, Portland on June 28, 2021, as a heatwave moves over much of the United States. North America has seen a dramatic increase in the amount of sudden deaths after a record-breaking heat wave hit parts of the U.S. Northwest and western Canada. AFP via Getty Images/Kathryn Elsesser