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When heat waves strike the nation, it is Japan’s large population of elderly people who suffer the most — a situation that can only get worse as the society grays.

The aged are more vulnerable than the young to heat-related illnesses such as heatstroke and heat exhaustion — with those 65 or older accounting for about half of the total patients who were taken to hospital during periods of warmer-than-usual weather between 2013 and 2017. The reason is the body’s temperature control functions weaken with age.

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