Global Warming Increases Asthma Related Hospital Admissions
Paola Michelozzi Ph.D., head of Environmental Epidemiology at the Department Epidemiology of the Local Health Authority, in Rome, tells us to watch for more hospitalizations for respiratory related problems such as asthma, as climate changes from global warming lead to hotter summer days. Results of a current study show that global warming is already increasing respiratory related hospital admissions.
The three year collaboration among scientists is published from the study, "Assessment and Prevention of Acute Health Effects of Weather Conditions in Europe" (PHEWE), in the March issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
A group of meteorologists, public health experts and epidemiologists gathered data about the short-term effect of climate change and the impact of global warming on hospitalizations in Europe. They found that for every one degree of temperature increase seen with global warming, hospitalizations from respiratory and asthma related illness increase by four percent.
"The PHEWE project represents the first attempt to evaluate the effect of temperature on several morbidity outcomes using a standardized methodology in a multi-center European study," writes Michelozzi.
Global warming and hotter summer temperatures, combined with an aging population, is expected to continue to increase rates of hospitalizations related to respiratory illness, worldwide.
The same results were not found for cardiovascular related problems in the European study. The scientists say hospital admissions for heart related disease actually decreased, while respiratory related hospitalizations increased, perhaps because of sudden death associated with acute cardiovascular events.
The study tracked temperatures, air pollution and hospital admissions, over three years between 1990 and 2001, in twelve European cities. "Maximum apparent temperature" was computed, measuring temperature and humidity (Tappmax). The results showed that in each city, one-degree increase over 90 percent of Tappmax lead to more hospitalizations for lung problems, especially for those over age 75.
Dr. Michelozzi writes, "These findings are important for public health because the prevalence of chronic diseases, such as COPD, is expected to increase in developed countries as a result of population aging. Furthermore, under climate change scenarios, the increase in extreme weather events and certain air pollutants, especially ozone, are likely to further aggravate chronic respiratory diseases."
The results of the study showing that global warming is expected to lead to more hospital admissions for lung problems, leads to recommendations from the authors for tailored public health programs, aimed at prevention of respiratory illnesses.
As temperatures rise from global warming, increased hospital admissions for lung problems are also expected to increase, especially during hotter summer months.
Source: American Thoracic Society