IJERPH, Vol. 20, Pages 5910: The Scorching Truth: Investigating the Impact of Heatwaves on Selangor’s Elderly Hospitalisations

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IJERPH, Vol. 20, Pages 5910: The Scorching Truth: Investigating the Impact of Heatwaves on Selangor’s Elderly Hospitalisations

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health doi: 10.3390/ijerph20105910

Authors:
Kun Hing Yong
Yen Nee Teo
Mohsen Azadbakht
Hai Phung
Cordia Chu

Global climate change has contributed to the intensity, frequency, and duration of heatwave events. The association between heatwaves and elderly mortality is highly researched in developed countries. In contrast, heatwave impact on hospital admissions has been insufficiently studied worldwide due to data availability and sensitivity. In our opinion, the relationship between heatwaves and hospital admissions is worthwhile to explore as it could have a profound impact on healthcare systems. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the associations between heatwaves and hospitalisations for the elderly by age group in Selangor, Malaysia, from 2010 to 2020. We further explored the impact of heatwaves on the risks of cause-specific hospital admissions across age groups within the elderly. This study applied generalized additive models (GAMs) with the Poisson family and distributed lag models (DLMs) to estimate the effect of heatwaves on hospitalisations. According to the findings, there was no significant increase in hospitalisations for those aged 60 and older during heatwaves; however, a rise in mean apparent temperature (ATmean) by 1 °C significantly increased the risk of hospital admission by 12.9%. Heatwaves had no immediate effects on hospital admissions among elderly patients, but significant delay effects were identified for ATmean with a lag of 0–3 days. The hospital admission rates of the elderly groups started declining after a 5-day average following the heatwave event. Females were found to be relatively more vulnerable than males during heatwave periods. Consequently, these results can provide a reference to improve public health strategies to target elderly people who are at the greatest risk of hospitalisations due to heatwaves. Development of early heatwave and health warning systems for the elderly would assist with preventing and reducing health risks while also minimising the burden on the whole hospital system in Selangor, Malaysia.

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