The impact of heatwaves on community morbidity and healthcare usage: A retrospective observational study using real-time syndromic surveillance

Sue Smith, Alex Elliot, Shakoor Hajat, Angie Bone, Chris Bates, Gillian Smith, Sari Kovats

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We investigated the impact of a moderate heatwave on a range of presenting morbidities in England. Asthma, difficulty breathing, cerebrovascular accident, and cardiovascular symptoms were analysed using general practitioner in hours (GPIH), out of hours (GPOOH) and emergency department (ED) syndromic surveillance systems. Data were stratified by age group and compared between a heatwave year (2013) and non-heatwave years (2012, 2014). Incidence rate ratios were calculated to estimate the differential impact of heatwave compared to non-heatwave summers: there were no apparent differences for the morbidities tested between the 2013 heatwave and non-heatwave years. A subset of GPIH data were used to study individuals at higher risk from heatwaves based on their pre-existing disease. Higher risk patients were not more likely to present at GPs or ED than other individuals. Comparing GPIH consultations and ED attendances for myocardial infarction/ischaemia (MI), there was evidence of a fall in the presentation of MI during the heatwave, which was particularly noted in the 65–74 years age group (and over 75 years in ED attendances). These results indicate the difficulty in identifying individuals at risk from non-fatal health effects of heatwaves and hot weather.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2016

Keywords

  • Emergency department
  • General practitioner
  • Heatwave
  • Syndromic surveillance
  • Telehealth

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