We set out to identify subpopulations and mortality causes with increased susceptibility to temperature extremes.
We conducted a case-only analysis using daily mortality and hourly weather data from 50 U.S. cities for the period 1989–2000, covering a total of 7,789,655 deaths. We used distributions of daily minimum and maximum temperature in each city to define extremely hot days (≥ 99th percentile) and extremely cold days (≤ 1st percentile), respectively. For each (hypothesized) effect modifier, a city-specific logistic regression model was fitted and an overall estimate calculated in a subsequent meta-analysis.
Older subjects [odds ratio (OR) = 1.020; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.005–1.034], diabetics (OR = 1.035; 95% CI, 1.010–1.062), blacks (OR = 1.037; 95% CI, 1.016–1.059), and those dying outside a hospital (OR = 1.066; 95% CI, 1.036–1.098) were more susceptible to extreme heat, with some differences observed between those dying from a cardiovascular disease and other decedents. Cardiovascular deaths (OR = 1.053; 95% CI, 1.036–1.070), and especially cardiac arrest deaths (OR =1.137; 95% CI, 1.051–1.230), showed a greater relative increase on extremely cold days, whereas the increase in heat-related mortality was marginally higher for those with coexisting atrial fibrillation (OR = 1.059; 95% CI, 0.996–1.125).