Cardiovascular-Related Hospital Admissions After Snowfall

HealthDay News – There is a sharp increase in hospital admissions for cardiovascular events 2 days after a major snowfall, according to research published online in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The study covered a period of time during which Boston experienced some of its largest-ever winter storms, inspiring researchers to take a closer look at the health effects. Information was taken from 433,037 adults hospitalized at Boston’s 4 largest hospitals during the months of November through April of 2010 to 2015.

In addition to cardiac events, the research team studied cold weather-related conditions such as frostbite, falls, and injuries occurring on the day of a snowfall and 6 days afterward. The analysis encompassed minor events involving a dusting to 5 inches of snow, moderate snowfalls of 5.1 to 10 inches, and major storms resulting in more than 10 inches.

Hospital admissions for cardiovascular-related events were 23% higher 2 days after a storm. Cold weather-related admissions increased by 3.7% on high snowfall days compared to days with no snowfall, and those admissions remained high for 5 days afterward, the researchers found. Falls increased by 18%, on average, in the 6 days after a moderate snowfall.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study in which the time course of hospitalizations during and immediately after snowfall days has been examined,” the authors wrote. “These findings can be translated into interventions that prevent hospitalizations and protect public health during harsh winter conditions.”

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Bobb JF, Ho KKL, Yeh RW, et al. Time-course of cause-specific hospital admissions during snowstorms: an analysis of electronic medical records from major hospitals in Boston, Massachusetts [published online January 30, 2017]. Am J Epidemiol. doi:10.1093/aje/kww219