AS the heatwave continues this week, university scientists are researching ways the elderly can avoid heat related illnesses.

The team from the University of Brighton hope their work will help cut the 2,000 lives lost in the UK each year.

The university is recruiting healthy volunteers aged 65 and over for a series of tests designed to help older people to stay cool.

Kirsty Waldock, a PhD student and lead investigator at the university’s college of social sciences, says climate change is likely to increase the number of heat-related health problems.

She said: “Recent mini heat waves have resulted in an increase in visits to hospital emergency departments for the treatment of heatstroke.

“The earth’s climate is warming and as the mean global temperature rises so does the frequency, severity and duration of heat waves, presenting a significant health risk to the population, with the elderly being the most vulnerable.

“If effective action to adapt to climate change is not implemented, a predicted five-fold increase in the number of heat-related deaths will occur in the UK by 2050."

Miss Waldock and colleagues, based at the university’s Eastbourne campus, are conducting exercise trials in a specially-designed environmental chamber.

Volunteers will receive information regarding their resting blood pressure and heart rate, body composition and individualised exercise responses.

She said: “The aim is to develop a user-friendly guide to assess the risk of developing a heat illness across a range of environments likely to be experienced during summer months.

“We will be testing volunteers using exercises that equate to various activities of daily living including household chores, light exercise to moderate exercise.

“We want to find ways for the elderly to stay cool - the aim is to provide specific guidelines for maintaining good levels of activity whilst remaining healthy during periods of hot weather for an elderly population.”

Head of the university’s centre for sport and exercise science and medicine, Neil Maxwell, said: “The university has an international reputation for research in this field and we collaborate with industry in the development of heat-alleviating products for market.

“We believe our research could extend to impact those most vulnerable.”

To find out more information about volunteering for the research email