Mortality during a Large-Scale Heat Wave by Place, Demographic Group, Internal and External Causes of Death, and Buildin...Published: 09 March 2016 by MDPI in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Mortality increases during periods of elevated heat. Identification of vulnerable subgroups by demographics, causes of death, and geographic regions, including deaths occurring at home, is needed to inform public health prevention efforts. We calculated mortality relative risks (RRs) and excess deaths associated with a large-scale California heat wave in 2006, comparing deaths during the heat wave with reference days. For total (all-place) and at-home mortality, we examined risks by demographic factors, internal and external causes of death, and building climate zones. During the heat wave, 582 excess deaths occurred, a 5% increase over expected (RR = 1.05, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.03–1.08). Sixty-six percent of excess deaths were at home (RR = 1.12, CI 1.07–1.16). Total mortality risk was higher among those aged 35–44 years than ≥65, and among Hispanics than whites. Deaths from external causes increased more sharply (RR = 1.18, CI 1.10–1.27) than from internal causes (RR = 1.04, CI 1.02–1.07). Geographically, risk varied by building climate zone; the highest risks of at-home death occurred in the northernmost coastal zone (RR = 1.58, CI 1.01–2.48) and the southernmost zone of California’s Central Valley (RR = 1.43, CI 1.21–1.68). Heat wave mortality risk varied across subpopulations, and some patterns of vulnerability differed from those previously identified. Public health efforts should also address at-home mortality, non-elderly adults, external causes, and at-risk geographic regions.