More Cardio-Related Life Years Lost at Extreme Temperatures

More years lost during heat waves than cold; effects of cold more prolonged than those of heat

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Cold spells and heat waves increase the number of life years lost from cardiovascular disease, with more of an increase seen during heat waves, according to research published in the September issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Noting that the relative cardiovascular mortality risk of temperature is influenced by deaths in frail individuals, Cunrui Huang, M.Med., M.S.P.H., from the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues estimated the effect of extreme temperatures on years of life lost due to cardiovascular disease using data from 1996 to 2004 in Brisbane.

The researchers observed a U shape for the exposure-response curve between temperature and years of life lost, with the fewest years of life lost at a temperature of 24 degrees Celsius. Heat waves were more damaging, with 45 years of life lost per day for a mean temperature of 32 degrees Celsius, compared with 31 years of life lost per day for a mean temperature of 10 degrees Celsius. Cold effects lasted longer, with a peak two days after exposure, while the effect of heat peaked on the day of exposure and decreased rapidly.

"Increased years of life lost due to cardiovascular disease are associated with both cold and hot temperatures," Huang and colleagues conclude. "Research on specific interventions is needed to reduce temperature-related years of life lost from cardiovascular disease deaths."

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