Effects of Cold Weather on Mortality: Results From 15 European Cities Within the PHEWE Project

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Abstract

Weather-related health effects have attracted renewed interest because of the observed and predicted climate change. The authors studied the short-term effects of cold weather on mortality in 15 European cities. The effects of minimum apparent temperature on cause- and age-specific daily mortality were assessed for the cold season (October–March) by using data from 1990–2000. For city-specific analysis, the authors used Poisson regression and distributed lag models, controlling for potential confounders. Meta-regression models summarized the results and explored heterogeneity. A 1°C decrease in temperature was associated with a 1.35% (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.16, 1.53) increase in the daily number of total natural deaths and a 1.72% (95% CI: 1.44, 2.01), 3.30% (95% CI: 2.61, 3.99), and 1.25% (95% CI: 0.77, 1.73) increase in cardiovascular, respiratory, and cerebrovascular deaths, respectively. The increase was greater for the older age groups. The cold effect was found to be greater in warmer (southern) cities and persisted up to 23 days, with no evidence of mortality displacement. Cold-related mortality is an important public health problem across Europe. It should not be underestimated by public health authorities because of the recent focus on heat-wave episodes.

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