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The Trends in Excess Mortality in Winter vs. Summer in a Sub-Tropical City and Its Association with Extreme Climate Conditions

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      Abstract

      While there is literature on excess winter mortality, there are few studies examining the evolution of its trend which may be changing in parallel with global warming. This study aimed to examine the trend in the excess mortality in winter as compared to summer among the older population in a sub-tropical city and to explore its association with extreme weather. We used a retrospective study based on the registered deaths among the older population in Hong Kong during 1976-2010. An Excess Mortality for Winter versus Summer (EMWS) Index was used to quantify the excess number of deaths in winter compared to summer. Multiple linear regressions were used to analyze the trends and its association with extreme weather. Overall, the EMWS Index for ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular diseases, chronic lower respiratory diseases, pneumonia, and other causes were 43.0%, 34.2%, 42.7%, 23.4% and 17.6%, respectively. Significant decline was observed in the EMWS Index for chronic lower respiratory diseases and other causes. The trend in the index for cerebrovascular diseases depended on the age group, with older groups showing a decline but younger groups not showing any trend. Meteorological variables, in terms of extreme weather, were associated with the trends in the EMWS Index. We concluded that shrinking excess winter mortality from cerebrovascular diseases and chronic lower respiratory diseases was found in a sub-tropical city. These trends were associated with extreme weather, which coincided with global warming.

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      Most cited references 32

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      Episodes of extremely hot or cold temperatures are associated with increased mortality. Time-series analyses show an association between temperature and mortality across a range of less extreme temperatures. In this paper, the authors describe the temperature-mortality association for 11 large eastern US cities in 1973-1994 by estimating the relative risks of mortality using log-linear regression analysis for time-series data and by exploring city characteristics associated with variations in this temperature-mortality relation. Current and recent days' temperatures were the weather components most strongly predictive of mortality, and mortality risk generally decreased as temperature increased from the coldest days to a certain threshold temperature, which varied by latitude, above which mortality risk increased as temperature increased. The authors also found a strong association of the temperature-mortality relation with latitude, with a greater effect of colder temperatures on mortality risk in more-southern cities and of warmer temperatures in more-northern cities. The percentage of households with air conditioners in the south and heaters in the north, which serve as indicators of socioeconomic status of the city population, also predicted weather-related mortality. The model developed in this analysis is potentially useful for projecting the consequences of climate-change scenarios and offering insights into susceptibility to the adverse effects of weather.
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        Weather-related mortality: how heat, cold, and heat waves affect mortality in the United States.

        Many studies have linked weather to mortality; however, role of such critical factors as regional variation, susceptible populations, and acclimatization remain unresolved. We applied time-series models to 107 US communities allowing a nonlinear relationship between temperature and mortality by using a 14-year dataset. Second-stage analysis was used to relate cold, heat, and heat wave effect estimates to community-specific variables. We considered exposure timeframe, susceptibility, age, cause of death, and confounding from pollutants. Heat waves were modeled with varying intensity and duration. Heat-related mortality was most associated with a shorter lag (average of same day and previous day), with an overall increase of 3.0% (95% posterior interval: 2.4%-3.6%) in mortality risk comparing the 99th and 90th percentile temperatures for the community. Cold-related mortality was most associated with a longer lag (average of current day up to 25 days previous), with a 4.2% (3.2%-5.3%) increase in risk comparing the first and 10th percentile temperatures for the community. Mortality risk increased with the intensity or duration of heat waves. Spatial heterogeneity in effects indicates that weather-mortality relationships from 1 community may not be applicable in another. Larger spatial heterogeneity for absolute temperature estimates (comparing risk at specific temperatures) than for relative temperature estimates (comparing risk at community-specific temperature percentiles) provides evidence for acclimatization. We identified susceptibility based on age, socioeconomic conditions, urbanicity, and central air conditioning. Acclimatization, individual susceptibility, and community characteristics all affect heat-related effects on mortality.
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          Heat-related and cold-related deaths in England and Wales: who is at risk?

          Despite the high burden from exposure to both hot and cold weather each year in England and Wales, there has been relatively little investigation on who is most at risk, resulting in uncertainties in informing government interventions. To determine the subgroups of the population that are most vulnerable to heat-related and cold-related mortality. Ecological time-series study of daily mortality in all regions of England and Wales between 1993 and 2003, with postcode linkage of individual deaths to a UK database of all care and nursing homes, and 2001 UK census small-area indicators. A risk of mortality was observed for both heat and cold exposure in all regions, with the strongest heat effects in London and strongest cold effects in the Eastern region. For all regions, a mean relative risk of 1.03 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.02 to 1.03) was estimated per degree increase above the heat threshold, defined as the 95th centile of the temperature distribution in each region, and 1.06 (95% CI 1.05 to 1.06) per degree decrease below the cold threshold (set at the 5th centile). Elderly people, particularly those in nursing and care homes, were most vulnerable. The greatest risk of heat mortality was observed for respiratory and external causes, and in women, which remained after control for age. Vulnerability to either heat or cold was not modified by deprivation, except in rural populations where cold effects were slightly stronger in more deprived areas. Interventions to reduce vulnerability to both hot and cold weather should target all elderly people. Specific interventions should also be developed for people in nursing and care homes as heat illness is easily preventable.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]School of Nursing, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
            [2 ]Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
            University of Vigo, SPAIN
            Author notes

            Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

            Conceived and designed the experiments: PHC JW. Analyzed the data: PHC. Wrote the paper: PHC JW.

            Contributors
            Role: Academic Editor
            Journal
            PLoS One
            PLoS ONE
            plos
            plosone
            PLoS ONE
            Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
            1932-6203
            20 May 2015
            2015
            : 10
            : 5
            25993635
            4439064
            10.1371/journal.pone.0126774
            PONE-D-14-53430
            (Academic Editor)

            This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited

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            Figures: 3, Tables: 3, Pages: 15
            Product
            Funding
            This study is funded by the Small Project Funding (no. 201209176097) of The University of Hong Kong. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
            Categories
            Research Article
            Custom metadata
            All data underlying the findings in our study are available from Census and Statistics Department of the Hong Kong SAR Government and the Hong Kong Observatory. However, the data are not free of charge. Residents have to pay for the requested statistics and the statistics cannot be re-disseminated to other parties. Interested parties may contact Census and Statistics Department at http://www.censtatd.gov.hk/ and Hong Kong Observatory at http://www.hko.gov.hk/.

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