High temperatures and cause-specific mortality
- Department of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California
- Correspondence to Dr Kristie L Ebi, 260 Panama Street, Stanford, California 94305, USA;
High ambient temperatures are hazardous, with a significant body of research documenting increases in morbidity and mortality during hot weather.1 And yet, every heat-related death is preventable. Improving understanding of who is most vulnerable, where they are located and early warning systems that effectively communicate the risks of hot temperatures could decrease the current health burden and increase resilience to a warmer world.
Surprisingly, understanding is limited of the characteristics that increase vulnerability.1 Gasparrini et al (this issue) provide a comprehensive analysis of specific causes of death that were increased during hot weather in regions of England and Wales. Overall mortality increased 2.1% per degree Celsius above a heat threshold identified for each region. For stroke, ischaemic heart disease, chronic ischaemic heart diseases and respiratory infections, the attributable burden increased >10%. The attributable burden is lower for other causes, but the absolute numbers of deaths is large (eg, there were >1000 deaths each over the study period for myocardial infarction, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, …