Author(s): Xiakun Zhang, Yanyan Zhou, Ying Tian, Shuyu Zhang
To obtain the influence of heat waves on death in the elderly, the influence of the heat waves in Nanjing in the summers (from June to August) of 2005-2008 on death among the elderly was analyzed by using statistical methods including generalized additive models. The results showed that the death toll over these four summers in Nanjing tended to increase; on an average 10.76% more males died than females, and the mortality rate of old people aged ≥65 accounted for 73.21% of all deaths. The mortality rate of older people rose with increasing maximum temperature. Furthermore, the average excess mortality rate caused by heat wave weather processes was 15.91%, while it was less affected by the duration of the heat wave. The death toll of the elderly increased with the increase in humidity, dropping of atmospheric pressure, and decrease of wind speed for 1°C increase of maximum temperature. Under the same humidity condition, atmospheric pressure, and wind speed, the death toll during heat wave days was higher than that occurring on other days, and heat waves increased the risk of death among the elderly by 26.6% (95% CI: 1.100 – 1.154). Daily mortality was mainly affected by the daily maximum temperature 1, 4, or 6 days later, particularly 4 days later. Heat wave was one of the principal factors, which caused the rise in death tolls in summer, and the elderly were most affected.
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