Effect of ambient temperature and humidity on hospital admissions for cardiovascular disease among Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations in the Northern Territory, Australia (6390)
Hospitalisations are associated with ambient temperature, but little is known about responses in population sub-groups. In this study, daily hospital admissions were analysed for cardiovascular disease from five hospitals in the Northern Territory (1992–2011). Indigenous status, age and sex were explored for their potential to influence the response.
In 25-64 year olds, the Indigenous female population were more adversely affected by ‘very hot’ days than the non-Indigenous population, with admission rates for ischaemic heart disease (IHD) increased by 32 per cent (95% CI 10-52%). People older than 65 were more sensitive to cold, with non-Indigenous male admissions for heart failure increased by 64 per cent (95 CI 21-117 %) and for IHD by 29 per cent (95% CI 6-55%). For Indigenous males, IHD admissions increase of 52 per cent was found (95%CI -2 –125) during cold conditions. For older females, heart failure admission increases of around 50 per cent (95%CI 3 – 120%) in non-Indigenous, and 64 per cent (95%CI -2 – 158%) in Indigenous were found on ‘very cold’ days.
Under projected climate change conditions, admissions for IHD amongst younger Indigenous people could increase in hot conditions, while admissions among elderly people during cold weather may be reduced. In the absence of adaptation activities, climate change is thus likely to have greater adverse health effects – at least for cardiovascular related events – in the Indigenous compared to non-Indigenous population, with the increase in heat related admissions in the younger population most likely to outweigh the reduction to rates of admission in older Indigenous people, especially from a burden of disease perspective.
To our knowledge this is the first quantitative study undertaken that investigates how climate impacts affect the health of disaggregated Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. Understanding the current health effects of climate, and the likely impacts of future climate change, will enable improved focusing of health care services and policy action for prevention. Quantifying these associations could improve health promotion, prevention and care delivery services, especially in regional and remote areas.