Shipments of air conditioners in Japan hit a record high in July, an industry body said Wednesday, due to brisk demand as an unprecedented heat wave swept over the country.

The volume of shipments last month rose 10.9 percent from the previous year to 1,763,000 units, the highest level on a monthly basis since 1972 when comparable data became available, according to the Japan Electrical Manufacturers' Association.

The country logged its highest-ever temperature of 41.1 degrees in Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture, on July 23, prompting the Meteorological Agency to call the heat wave "a natural disaster" and warn the public to take precautions to avoid heatstroke and heat exhaustion.

Government data released earlier this month showed the heat wave has sent more than 70,000 people to hospitals across the country over the last three months. A total of 140 people have died as a result of the heat wave.

The shipment value of air conditioners stood at ¥137.9 billion ($1.2 billion) in July, up 12.2 percent from the previous year and the highest for the month in 10 years, according to the association.

The total value of home appliance shipments increased 7.2 percent to ¥281.1 billion in the reporting month, buoyed by growing demand for refrigerators, washing machines and vacuum cleaners.