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A better indicator to measure the effects of meteorological factors on cardiovascular mortality: heat index

Yin, Qian, Wang, Jinfeng
Environmental science and pollution research international 2018 v.25 no.23 pp. 22842-22849
air temperature, cardiovascular diseases, death, elderly, females, heat, mortality, nonlinear models, relative humidity, risk, China
Although many studies have examined the correlation between temperature and mortality from cardiovascular diseases (CVD), other meteorological factors, such as relative humidity, may modify the relationship. Yet the studies on this aspect are relatively few. We chose a heat index (HI, which is an index that combines air temperature and relative humidity) as an alternative indicator of temperature, and used a distributed lag nonlinear model (DLNM) to analyze the combined effects of temperature and relative humidity on CVD mortality among all of the Beijing residents and subsociodemographic groups by age, sex, and occupation. The heat index can better reflect the human-perceived temperature when relative humidity is combined with air temperature. The results show that females, elderly people, and outdoor workers have higher vulnerability levels in regard to a high heat index. The strongest effect of heat index was found among females, for which the highest mortality risk was about 2.4 (95% CI 1.8–3) times greater than the lowest mortality risk. In addition, we found that there is a significant interaction effect of temperature and relative humidity on CVD mortality. The impact of extreme high temperature may be exacerbated by increases in humidity. Based on these results, we draw the risk level map of CVD death under different temperatures and grades of relative humidity. These findings may aid governments in the development of more accurate heat alerts and the provision of measures to prevent or reduce temperature-related deaths.