July 16, 2013

The Health Threat of Temperature Swings

Summer Temperature May Be A Health Threat

A 20 year study shows extreme summer temperature swings, which are becoming more common, may be a health threat to people age 65 or older.  Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study compared more than 20 years of Medicare records with summer temperature changes over the same time period for 135 US cities.  Taken into account were other environmental variables, also, such as air pollution, the number of parks and trees in an urban area, income, education and race.

The results were that changes in a city's average summertime temperature range of as little as 1 degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, were linked to higher death rates for seniors with heart and lung disease and diabetes.  For each 1 degree Celsius change, death risk rose 4.0% for those with diabetes, 3.8% for those who'd had a previous heart attack, 3.7% for those with chronic lung disease and 2.8% for those with heart failure.  In the US population, this could be responsible for as many as 14,000 deaths in heart attack survivors each year, for example.  


The problem seems to be that temperature swings stress the body, and many elders cannot adjust.  Therefore, friends, relatives and neighbors should try to keep a closer eye on people with chronic health problems, watching for changes in their daily vital signs or complaints.  This is important whether the temperature goes up or down. 

Robert G. Tupac, DDS, FACP, Inc., 
 Diplomate, American Board of Prosthodontics
(661) 325-1275 | www.drtupac.com
5060 California Ave., #170, Bakersfield, CA 93309

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