[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 8-Aug-2007
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Contact: Charlotte Webber
press@biomedcentral.com
44-020-763-19980
BioMed Central

Long heat waves boost hospital admissions

Summer heat waves significantly increase pressure on hospitals, according to research published in the online open access journal, BMC Public Health. The good news for hospital staff is that scorching weather must last four or more days before admissions rise significantly.

Giuseppe Mastrangelo and his team from the University of Padova, Italy, examined hospital discharge records for patients aged 75 or over during five heat waves which hit the Veneto Region in Northeast Italy between 2002 and 2003. They found that for each additional day of heat wave duration hospital admissions for disorders of fluid and electrolyte balance, acute renal failure, and heat stroke rose by 16 percent, and breathing disorders by five percent. Individual hot days cause fewer problems, suggesting that people can recover during cooler breaks in the weather.

Usually the first heat wave of the summer is considered the most deadly, however the team found that hospital admissions peaked during both the first and last heat waves of the year. This suggested that physiologic adaptations to the heat or behavioural changes following initial exposure to high temperatures did not prevent people from falling ill. Hospitals should not expect heat-related admissions to decrease as the summer progresses.

The results support previous studies linking heat waves with increased death rates, especially amongst the elderly. However this is the first investigation into whether heat wave intensity and duration have any effects on general health. Many heat-related diseases may be preventable with adequate warning and an appropriate response to predicted heat waves, the authors conclude.

"These results have important implications upon ongoing efforts to forecast health-related impacts in the heat watch/warning systems," says Mastrangelo. "The first part of a heat wave having only minor effects supports heat health systems where alerts are based on duration of hot humid days."

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Article:
Pattern and determinants of hospitalization during heat waves: an ecologic study
Giuseppe Mastrangelo, Ugo Fedeli, Cristiana Visentin, Giovanni Milan, Emanuela Fadda and Paolo Spolaore
BMC Public Health (in press)

During embargo, article available at: http://www.biomedcentral.com/imedia/1818738755128346_article.pdf?random=293552

After the embargo, article available from the journal website at: http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcpublichealth/

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication

For author contact details please contact Charlotte Webber (Press Officer) at BioMed Central on +44 (0)20 7631 9980 or email press@biomedcentral.com

BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com) is an independent online publishing house committed to providing open access to peer-reviewed biological and medical research. This commitment is based on the view that immediate free access to research and the ability to freely archive and reuse published information is essential to the rapid and efficient communication of science.

BioMed Central currently publishes over 160 journals across biology and medicine. In addition to open-access original research, BioMed Central also publishes reviews, commentaries and other non-original-research content. Depending on the policies of the individual journal, this content may be open access or provided only to subscribers.



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