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Cardiovascular mortality due to hot and cold temperatures

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Temperatures influence heart mortality including heart failure

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Studies have frequently shown that extremely hot weather causes mortality levels to rise. As an example; the heat wave in the summer of 2003 in Western Europe had resulted in 22,000 extra deaths.

In this new study Dr. Alexandra Schneider at the Institute of Epidemiology II at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, and colleagues examined the association between daily air temperature and cause-specific cardiovascular mortality in Bavaria, Southern Germany.

Researchers gathered information from the cities of Munich, Nuremberg and Augsburg and two adjacent administrative districts (Augsburg and Aichach-Friedberg) between 1990 and 2006. The information collected had included cause-specific cardiovascular death counts, mean daily meteorological variables and air pollution concentrations.

The researchers demonstrated that when temperatures rose from 20°C to 25°C deaths from cardiovascular disease increased significantly by 9.5% and when fell from -1°C to -8°C, the number of deaths from cardiovascular disease increased significantly by 7.9%.

The effects of heat lasted one or two days and cold effects lasted up two weeks. The strongest consistent risk estimates were seen for high 2-day average temperatures and mortality due to other heart diseases (including arrhythmias and heart failure) and cerebrovascular diseases, especially in the elderly.

Dr. Schneider commented "Our findings give an indication of the diseases that are responsible for the observed link between air temperature and death rates, and thus provide a partial explanation as to why some people react more strongly to heat or cold than others and are, therefore, exposed to a greater health risk on hot or cold days.” "These results are important in order to develop or adapt preventive programs and codes of practice."

The team plans on conducting further research into the mechanisms that may be responsible for the health effects observed during cold and, in particular, hot temperatures. They have an interest in possible interactions with air pollutants, which are required in order to predict the effects of climate change on the health of the population, especially in cities and in major conurbations.

These results are published in the medical journal Heart.

Citation; DOI: 10.1136/heartjnl-2014-305578

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