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BMJ Open. 2013 Jan 24;3(1). pii: e001842. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001842.

Heat-related respiratory hospital admissions in Europe in a changing climate: a health impact assessment.

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1
Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Respiratory diseases are ranked second in Europe in terms of mortality, prevalence and costs. Studies have shown that extreme heat has a large impact on mortality and morbidity, with a large relative increase for respiratory diseases. Expected increases in mean temperature and the number of extreme heat events over the coming decades due to climate change raise questions about the possible health impacts. We assess the number of heat-related respiratory hospital admissions in a future with a different climate.

DESIGN:

A Europe-wide health impact assessment.

SETTING:

An assessment for each of the EU27 countries.

METHODS:

Heat-related hospital admissions under a changing climate are projected using multicity epidemiological exposure-response relationships applied to gridded population data and country-specific baseline respiratory hospital admission rates. Times-series of temperatures are simulated with a regional climate model based on four global climate models, under two greenhouse gas emission scenarios.

RESULTS:

Between a reference period (1981-2010) and a future period (2021-2050), the total number of respiratory hospital admissions attributed to heat is projected to be larger in southern Europe, with three times more heat attributed respiratory hospital admissions in the future period. The smallest change was estimated in Eastern Europe with about a twofold increase. For all of Europe, the number of heat-related respiratory hospital admissions is projected to be 26 000 annually in the future period compared with 11 000 in the reference period.

CONCLUSIONS:

The results suggest that the projected effects of climate change on temperature and the number of extreme heat events could substantially influence respiratory morbidity across Europe.

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