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Medical and biological factors affecting mortality in elderly residential fire victims: a narrative review of the literature
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgical Sciences, Plastic Surgery.
2017 (English)In: Scars, Burns & Healing, Vol. 3Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

For older people (aged over 65 years), the risk of dying in a residential fire is doubled compared to the general population. Obvious causes of death mainly include smoke inhalation and burn injuries. That older people are more fragile and have more concurrent diseases is inherent, but what is it that makes them more vulnerable? It is known that the number of elderly people is increasing globally and that the increased risk of death in fires can be explained, at least in part, by physical and/or cognitive disabilities as well as socioeconomic and behavioural factors. The possibility that medical illnesses and an aging organism/tissues might explain this increased risk has not been shown to the same extent. Therefore, this narrative literature review focuses on medical and biological explanations. An initial search using the terms ‘elderly’, ‘fatal’, ‘residential’ and ‘fire’ yielded some interesting articles. Using a broader snowball search also accepting grey literature, several additional risk factors could be identified. Cardiovascular diseases, in particular atherosclerotic heart disease, greatly increases the vulnerability to, for example, carbon monoxide and probably also other asphyxiating gases. Cardiovascular diseases and lack of physical fitness may also increase vulnerability to heat. Burned elderly patients are also at a higher risk of death than younger patients, but it is controversial whether it is age itself or the pre-existing illnesses that come with age that increase the risk. Immunosenescence, malnutrition and female gender are other risk factors for poorer outcome after burns, all of which are common among older people.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 3
Keyword [en]
Elderly, smoke, heat, vulnerability, fatal, residential fire
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-334090DOI: 10.1177/2059513117707686OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-334090DiVA: diva2:1158729
Available from: 2017-11-21 Created: 2017-11-21 Last updated: 2017-11-21

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