Introduction: Climate change and rapid population ageing are significant public health challenges. Understanding which health problems are affected by temperature is important for preventing heat and cold-related deaths and illnesses, particularly in the elderly. Here we present a systematic review and meta-analysis on the effects of ambient hot and cold temperature (excluding heat/cold wave only studies) on elderly (65+ years) mortality and morbidity.
Methods: Time-series or case-crossover studies comprising cause-specific cases of elderly mortality (n = 3,933,398) or morbidity (n = 12,157,782) were pooled to obtain a percent change (%) in risk for temperature exposure on cause-specific disease outcomes using a random-effects meta-analysis. Results: A 1 degrees C temperature rise increased cardiovascular (3.44%, 95% CI 3.10-3.78), respiratory (3.60%, 3.18-4.02), and cerebrovascular (1.40%, 0.06-2.75) mortality. A 1 degrees C temperature reduction increased respiratory (2.90%, 1.84-3.97) and cardiovascular (1.66%, 1.19-2.14) mortality. The greatest risk was associated with cold-induced pneumonia (6.89%, 20-12.99) and respiratory morbidity (4.93% 1.54-8.44). A 1 degrees C temperature rise increased cardiovascular, respiratory, diabetes mellitus, genitourinary, infectious disease and heat-related morbidity.
Discussion: Elevated risks for the elderly were prominent for temperature-induced cerebrovascular, cardiovascular, diabetes, genitourinary, infectious disease, heat-related, and respiratory outcomes. These risks will likely increase with climate change and global ageing.
2016. Vol. 6, 258-268 p.