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Global warning: Hotter days, increased hospitalizations for respiratory problems
Date:2/19/2009

air temperature and humidity. At the far ends of the spectrum, the researchers found that Dublin had a Tappmax of 14.7C (about 58F) whereas Valencia's was 29.5C (about 85F). In most cities, each degree increase over 90 percent of the Tappmax, respiratory disease-related hospital admissions increased for all ages and especially in the 75+ age group.

Interestingly, while cardiovascular deaths are known to go up with the temperature, there was a slight decrease in hospitalizations. The researchers speculated that the acute onset of cardiovascular events could result in sudden deaths before medical treatment was possible.

"The contrasting pattern between admissions and mortality could also be related to differences in physiopathologic mechanisms," wrote Dr. Michelozzi. "...[C]ardiovascular deaths during hot days tend to occur suddenly in persons whose health is compromised. Respiratory mortality, on the contrary, tends to peak later than cardiovascular mortality, with effects observed up to three weeks after exposure..."

Despite the increase of respiratory-related hospitalizations overall, the observed effect was heterogeneous among cities, indicating the need for further study.

"This is in part due to differences in exposure, the large variability among the cities analyzed, the differences in adaptive capacity and the vulnerability of populations due to their socio-demographic characteristics, as well as differences in the preventive measures in place," said Dr. Michelozzi. "Moreover, across European countries there is wide variation in healthcare and hospital admissions availability. Although all these differences are important, our results document an effect of high temperature on hospital admissions for respiratory causes in several cities, and this is the strength of the study."

"These findings are important for public health because the prevalence of chronic diseases, such as COPD, is expected to increase in develope
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Contact: Keely Savoie
ksavoie@thoracic.org
212-315-8620
American Thoracic Society
Source:Eurekalert

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