The Effect of Heat Waves on Ambulance Attendances in Brisbane, Australia
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Introduction Heat waves have significant impacts on mortality and morbidity. However, little is known regarding effects on pre-admission health outcomes such as ambulance attendances, particularly in subtropical regions. Problem This study investigated both main temperature effects and the added effects of heat waves on ambulance attendances in Brisbane, a subtropical city in Australia. Methods Daily data relating to 783,935 ambulance attendances, along with data on meteorological variables and air pollutants, were collected for the period 2000-2007. Ambient temperature (main) effects were assessed using a distributed lag nonlinear approach that accounted for delayed effects of temperature, while added heat wave effects were incorporated separately using a local heat wave definition. Effect estimates were obtained for total, cardiovascular and respiratory attendances, and different age groups. Results Main effects of temperature were found for total attendances, which increased by 50.6% (95% CI, 32.3%-71.4%) for a 9.5àincrease above a reference temperature of 29î An added heat wave effect on total attendances was observed (18.8%; 95% CI, 6.5%-32.5%). Significant effects were found for both respiratory and cardiovascular attendances, particularly for those aged 65 and above. Conclusion Ambulance attendances can be significantly impacted by sustained periods of high temperatures, and are a valid source of early detection of the effects of extreme temperatures on the population. The planning of ambulance services may need to be adapted as a consequence of increasing numbers of heat waves in the future. Ambulance attendance data also should be utilized in the development of heat warning systems and climate change adaptation strategies.
Prehospital and Disaster Medicine
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Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified