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      Extreme Temperatures and Mortality: Assessing Effect Modification by Personal Characteristics and Specific Cause of Death in a Multi-City Case-Only Analysis

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          Extremes of temperature are associated with short-term increases in daily mortality.


          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).


          In this study we identified several subpopulations and mortality causes particularly susceptible to temperature extremes. This knowledge may contribute to establishing health programs that would better protect the vulnerable.

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          Most cited references 41

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          Quantifying heterogeneity in a meta-analysis.

          The extent of heterogeneity in a meta-analysis partly determines the difficulty in drawing overall conclusions. This extent may be measured by estimating a between-study variance, but interpretation is then specific to a particular treatment effect metric. A test for the existence of heterogeneity exists, but depends on the number of studies in the meta-analysis. We develop measures of the impact of heterogeneity on a meta-analysis, from mathematical criteria, that are independent of the number of studies and the treatment effect metric. We derive and propose three suitable statistics: H is the square root of the chi2 heterogeneity statistic divided by its degrees of freedom; R is the ratio of the standard error of the underlying mean from a random effects meta-analysis to the standard error of a fixed effect meta-analytic estimate, and I2 is a transformation of (H) that describes the proportion of total variation in study estimates that is due to heterogeneity. We discuss interpretation, interval estimates and other properties of these measures and examine them in five example data sets showing different amounts of heterogeneity. We conclude that H and I2, which can usually be calculated for published meta-analyses, are particularly useful summaries of the impact of heterogeneity. One or both should be presented in published meta-analyses in preference to the test for heterogeneity. Copyright 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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            Prevalence of diagnosed atrial fibrillation in adults: national implications for rhythm management and stroke prevention: the AnTicoagulation and Risk Factors in Atrial Fibrillation (ATRIA) Study.

            Atrial fibrillation is the most common arrhythmia in elderly persons and a potent risk factor for stroke. However, recent prevalence and projected future numbers of persons with atrial fibrillation are not well described. To estimate prevalence of atrial fibrillation and US national projections of the numbers of persons with atrial fibrillation through the year 2050. Cross-sectional study of adults aged 20 years or older who were enrolled in a large health maintenance organization in California and who had atrial fibrillation diagnosed between July 1, 1996, and December 31, 1997. Prevalence of atrial fibrillation in the study population of 1.89 million; projected number of persons in the United States with atrial fibrillation between 1995-2050. A total of 17 974 adults with diagnosed atrial fibrillation were identified during the study period; 45% were aged 75 years or older. The prevalence of atrial fibrillation was 0.95% (95% confidence interval, 0.94%-0.96%). Atrial fibrillation was more common in men than in women (1.1% vs 0.8%; P<.001). Prevalence increased from 0.1% among adults younger than 55 years to 9.0% in persons aged 80 years or older. Among persons aged 50 years or older, prevalence of atrial fibrillation was higher in whites than in blacks (2.2% vs 1.5%; P<.001). We estimate approximately 2.3 million US adults currently have atrial fibrillation. We project that this will increase to more than 5.6 million (lower bound, 5.0; upper bound, 6.3) by the year 2050, with more than 50% of affected individuals aged 80 years or older. Our study confirms that atrial fibrillation is common among older adults and provides a contemporary basis for estimates of prevalence in the United States. The number of patients with atrial fibrillation is likely to increase 2.5-fold during the next 50 years, reflecting the growing proportion of elderly individuals. Coordinated efforts are needed to face the increasing challenge of optimal stroke prevention and rhythm management in patients with atrial fibrillation.
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              Atrial fibrillation as an independent risk factor for stroke: the Framingham Study.

              The impact of nonrheumatic atrial fibrillation, hypertension, coronary heart disease, and cardiac failure on stroke incidence was examined in 5,070 participants in the Framingham Study after 34 years of follow-up. Compared with subjects free of these conditions, the age-adjusted incidence of stroke was more than doubled in the presence of coronary heart disease (p less than 0.001) and more than trebled in the presence of hypertension (p less than 0.001). There was a more than fourfold excess of stroke in subjects with cardiac failure (p less than 0.001) and a near fivefold excess when atrial fibrillation was present (p less than 0.001). In persons with coronary heart disease or cardiac failure, atrial fibrillation doubled the stroke risk in men and trebled the risk in women. With increasing age the effects of hypertension, coronary heart disease, and cardiac failure on the risk of stroke became progressively weaker (p less than 0.05). Advancing age, however, did not reduce the significant impact of atrial fibrillation. For persons aged 80-89 years, atrial fibrillation was the sole cardiovascular condition to exert an independent effect on stroke incidence (p less than 0.001). The attributable risk of stroke for all cardiovascular contributors decreased with age except for atrial fibrillation, for which the attributable risk increased significantly (p less than 0.01), rising from 1.5% for those aged 50-59 years to 23.5% for those aged 80-89 years. While these findings highlight the impact of each cardiovascular condition on the risk of stroke, the data suggest that the elderly are particularly vulnerable to stroke when atrial fibrillation is present.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

                Author and article information

                [1 ] Department of Environmental Health and
                [2 ] Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
                Author notes
                Address correspondence to M. Medina-Ramón, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, 401 Park Dr., Landmark Center, Suite 415-E West, Boston, MA 02215. Telephone: (617) 384-8742. Fax: (617) 384-8745. E-mail: mmedinar@

                The authors declare they have no competing financial interests.

                Environ Health Perspect
                Environmental Health Perspectives
                National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
                September 2006
                6 July 2006
                : 114
                : 9
                : 1331-1336
                This is an Open Access article: verbatim copying and redistribution of this article are permitted in all media for any purpose, provided this notice is preserved along with the article's original DOI

                Public health

                heat, mortality, cold, cause of death, effect modifiers (epidemiology), weather, temperature


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