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Summer Temperature Swings Kill Elders


Summer Temperature Swings Kill Elders

(ePharmaNews) - New research suggests that what seems like small summer temperature swings—as little as 1°C more than usual—may shorten life expectancy for elderly people with chronic medical conditions, and could result in thousands of additional deaths each year.

This study, published online April 9, 2012 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is the first study to examine the longe-term effects of climate change on life expectancy. Previous studies have focused on the short-term effects of heat waves, and they concluded that heat waves have immediate and direct impact on health by accelerating the spread of infectious diseases such as malaria and fever; moreover, they optimize the environement for conditions like malnutrition, diarrhea and infection as well as the so-called heat shock.
 
One of the researchers at Harvard School of Public Health says:" We found that, independent of heat waves, high day to day variability in summer temperatures shortens life expectancy” and he added: “even minor temperature variations caused by climate change may also increase death rates over time among elderly people with diabetes, heart failure, chronic lung disease, or those who have survived a previous heart attack.”


The researchers used Medicare data from 1985 to 2006 to follow the long-term health of 3.7 million chronically ill people over age 65 living in different cities. They evaluated whether mortality among these people was related to variability in summer temperature, allowing for other things that might influence the comparison, such as individual risk factors, winter temperature variance, and ozone levels. They compiled results for individual cities, and then pooled the results.
They found that, within each city, years when the summer temperature swings were larger had higher death rates than years with smaller swings. Each 1°C increase in summer temperature variability increased the death rate for elderly with chronic conditions around 4.0%, depending on the condition. Mortality risk increased for those with diabetes. Based on these increases in mortality risk, the researchers estimate that greater summer temperature variability in the U.S. could result in more than 10,000 additional deaths per year.
In addition, the researchers found the mortality risk was 1% to 2% greater for those living in poverty. The risk was lower for people living in cities with more green space.
    
"People adapt to the usual temperature in their city. That is why we don't expect higher mortality rates in Miami than in Minneapolis, despite the higher temperatures," said the senior author of the paper. "But people do not adapt as well to increased fluctuations around the usual temperature. That finding, combined with the increasing age of the population, the increasing prevalence of chronic conditions such as diabetes, and possible increases in temperature fluctuations due to climate change, means that this public health problem is likely to grow in importance in the future."

This increase in mortality has major impacts, especially taking into account that in 2017, and for the first time in human history, the number of elderly (who exceed the sixty-fifth year) around the world will be more than the number of children, and that almost 75% of those have at least one chronic disease while around 50% have at least two chronic diseases.


اضغط هنا للقراءة باللغة العربية

Prepared by: Marcell Shehwaro
Translated by: Marcell Shehwaro


Source :

ePharmaNews






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