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Hot Weather-Related Deaths Expected to Climb

Increase in future temperature-related deaths partly due to projected population growth and aging

THURSDAY, Feb. 6, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A considerable increase in heat-related mortality is anticipated in the coming years, partly driven by projected population growth and aging, according to a study published online Feb. 3 in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Shakoor Hajat, Ph.D., from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and colleagues used time-series regression analysis to characterize current temperature-mortality associations by region and age group. These were combined with local climate and population projections and used to estimate temperature-related deaths for the United Kingdom by the 2020s, 2050s, and 2080s.

The researchers observed a significantly elevated risk of heat-related and cold-related mortality in all regions, with the elderly most at risk. A considerable increase in heat-related deaths of about 257 percent would be expected by the 2050s, from a current annual baseline of 2,000 deaths; while cold-related deaths would be expected to decline by 2 percent from a baseline of about 41,000 deaths, assuming no adaptation by the population. In all periods, the cold burden remained higher than the heat burden. Projected population growth and aging partly drove the increased number of future temperature-related deaths.

"Health protection from hot weather will become increasingly necessary, and measures to reduce cold impacts will also remain important in the United Kingdom," the authors write. "The demographic changes expected this century mean that the health protection of the elderly will be vital."

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