Young men more likely to die in summer, older people in winter despite local climate

October 30, 2018

Young men living in the US are overall more likely to die in the summer months, according to a new study in eLife.

The trend is just one of several highlighted in an analysis spanning nearly four decades, which will help inform public health strategies to reduce deaths now and in the future.

"It is well established that death rates vary throughout the year, but there is limited information on how this seasonality varies by local climate and how it has changed over time for different diseases and at different ages," explains lead author Robbie Parks, PhD student at the MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, Imperial College London, UK. "In this study, we set out to comprehensively characterise the patterns of death over different time periods and geographical areas to understand when and where death rates are at their highest and lowest."

The study used data on 85,854,176 deaths in the US between 1980 and 2016 from the vital registration. It was analysed using a technique called wavelet analysis, where death rates are studied through a kind of 'moving window' over time, revealing changes.

Using this approach, the research team identified several distinct seasonal patterns in relation to age and gender:

Over the 37 years, the per-cent differences in seasonal death rates changed little for people aged 45 and older. But there was a marked decline in the per-cent difference between summer and winter deaths in younger people of both sexes, especially in boys: more than a 25% decline between summer and winter deaths in males in the five-to-14 and 15-to-24-year-old age groups, mainly due to injury death rates throughout the year becoming more similar.

Surprisingly, these seasonal trends were independent of geography, which is noteworthy considering the differences in temperature across the regions studied. For example, in men and women aged 65-74 years old, deaths from all causes peaked in February in the northeast and southeast regions of the US, even though the average temperatures for those regions were different by more than 13 degrees Celsius (24 degrees Fahrenheit). Moreover, in people aged over 45, there was little variation in the seasonal peaks of deaths across regions, despite the large differences in temperature between the summer and winter months.

"We have identified distinct seasonal patterns relating to age, sex and disease, including higher summer deaths in young men," concludes senior author Majid Ezzati, Professor of Global Environmental Health at Imperial College London. "We also showed that this seasonality is similar in terms of timing and magnitude across diverse climates with substantially different temperatures. The persistent peak in winter deaths observed in older people demonstrates the need for environmental and health service interventions targeted towards this group, irrespective of geography and local climate."
-end-
Reference

The paper 'National and regional seasonal dynamics of all-cause and cause-specific mortality in the USA from 1980 to 2016' can be freely accessed online at https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.35500. Contents, including text, figures and data, are free to reuse under a CC BY 4.0 license.

Media contact

Emily Packer, Senior Press Officer
eLife
e.packer@elifesciences.org
01223 855373

About eLife

eLife aims to help scientists accelerate discovery by operating a platform for research communication that encourages and recognises the most responsible behaviours in science. We publish important research in all areas of the life and biomedical sciences, including Epidemiology and Global Health, which is selected and evaluated by working scientists and made freely available online without delay. eLife also invests in innovation through open-source tool development to accelerate research communication and discovery. Our work is guided by the communities we serve. eLife is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society, the Wellcome Trust and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. Learn more at https://elifesciences.org/about.

To read the latest Epidemiology and Global Health research published in eLife, visit https://elifesciences.org/subjects/epidemiology-global-health.

eLife

Related Health Articles from Brightsurf:

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

Modifiable health risks linked to more than $730 billion in US health care costs
Modifiable health risks, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking, were linked to over $730 billion in health care spending in the US in 2016, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health.

New measure of social determinants of health may improve cardiovascular health assessment
The authors of this study developed a single risk score derived from multiple social determinants of health that predicts county-level cardiovascular disease mortality.

BU study: High deductible health plans are widening racial health gaps
The growing Black Lives Matter movement has brought more attention to the myriad structures that reinforce racial inequities, in everything from policing to hiring to maternal mortality.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

E-health resource improves men's health behaviours with or without fitness facilities
Men who regularly used a free web resource made significantly more health changes than men who did not, finds a new study from the University of British Columbia and Intensions Consulting.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental health of health care workers in china in hospitals with patients with COVID-19
This survey study of almost 1,300 health care workers in China at 34 hospitals equipped with fever clinics or wards for patients with COVID-19 reports on their mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress.

Health records pin broad set of health risks on genetic premutation
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marshfield Clinic have found that there may be a much broader health risk to carriers of the FMR1 premutation, with potentially dozens of clinical conditions that can be ascribed directly to carrying it.

Attitudes about health affect how older adults engage with negative health news
To get older adults to pay attention to important health information, preface it with the good news about their health.

Read More: Health News and Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.