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Revista Portuguesa de Saúde Pública

versão impressa ISSN 0870-9025


NOGUEIRA, Paulo Jorge et al. Hospital admissions associated with August 2003 heat wave in Portugal: evidence of association between morbidity and heat wave occurrence. Rev. Port. Sau. Pub. [online]. 2009, vol.27, n.2, pp.87-102. ISSN 0870-9025.

Between 28 July and 15 August of 2003, occurred in Portugal a heat wave so intense that affected all districts of its mainland. The period with high temperatures lasted for nineteen (19) days. The Portuguese Heat Health Warning System (the ÍCARO surveillance system) identified the possibility of the occurrence of excess heat deaths, and the existence of significant effects on mortality was later recognized. Given the adverse health effects of heat waves, it seemed to be crucial to determine its effects also on morbidity. This study aimed to contribute to a better characterization of the effects of heat waves on human health, which result in hospital admissions. Excess hospital admissions during the period 28 July to 15 August 2003 was obtained based on the analysis of GDH groups databases (the Portuguese DRG database) from 2001 to 2003. The global estimated excess of hospital admissions during the heat wave in 2003 was 5%, representing an estimated 2576 hospital admission above the expected. For individuals aged 75 or more years, the hospital admissions that occurred in 2003 during the occurrence of heat wave were higher 28% and 25% relatively to 2001 and 2002, respectively. The estimated global surplus for this elder age group was 14%, which represents 1213 hospital admissions more than expected. When comparing the hospital admissions of 2003 with the 2001/2002 ones, the group of causes of hospital admissions that had a greater percentage increase during the heat wave was that of the diseases of the respiratory system, followed by the group of the endocrine, nutritional and metabolic diseases and immunity disorders and the group of the diseases of the genitourinary system. These results show evidence that there is indeed an impact heat occurrence in the patterns of morbidity, particularly in the number of hospital admissions in the population of Portugal Mainland in general and in the elder population in particular (75 years old and over). The 2003 heat wave occurred in the period (August) in which the number of hospital admissions is usually at its lowest values. Distributed by all hospitals, the estimated excess number of hospitalizations associated with the excessive heat has not had a particular expression in each hospital. The excess of hospital admissions estimated in the age group aged 75 years or more was at least 45% of all excess admissions (for all age’s population). In normal conditions, this age group is usually responsible for only about 15% of all hospital admissions.

Palavras-chave : heat waves; morbidity; hospital admission; elder population.

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