Experts at the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, say knowing which health-related factors may increase risk could save a life. Those factors include:

* Age-related changes to the skin such as poor blood circulation and inefficient sweat glands

* Heart, lung, and kidney diseases, as well as any illness that causes general weakness or fever

* High blood pressure or other conditions that require changes in diet, such as salt-restricted diets

* Reduced sweating, caused by medications such as diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, and certain heart and blood pressure drugs

* Taking several drugs for various conditions (It is important, however, to continue to take prescribed medication and discuss possible problems with a physician.)

* Being substantially overweight or underweight

* Drinking alcoholic beverages

* Being dehydrated

Lifestyle factors can also increase risk, including extremely hot living quarters, lack of transportation, overdressing, visiting overcrowded places, and not understanding how to respond to weather conditions.