Background: A rarely investigated consequence of heat exposure is renal dysfunction resulting from dehydration and hyperthermia. Our study aims to quantify the relationship between exposure to extreme high temperatures and renal morbidity in South Australia.
Methods: Poisson regression accounting for over dispersion, seasonality and long-term trend was used to estimate the effect of heat waves on hospital admissions for renal disease, acute renal failure and renal dialysis over a 12-year period. Selected comorbidities were investigated as possible contributing risk factors.
Results: Admissions for renal disease and acute renal failure were increased during heat waves compared with non-heat wave periods with an incidence rate ratio of 1.100 [95% confidence intervals (CI) 1.003-1.206] and 1.255 (95% CI 1.037-1.519), respectively. Hospitalizations for dialysis showed no corresponding increase. Comorbid diabetes did not increase the risk of renal admission, however 'effects of heat and light' and 'exposure to excessive natural heat' (collectively termed effects of heat) were identified as risk factors.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that as heat waves become more frequent, the burden of renal morbidity may increase in susceptible individuals as an indirect consequence of global warming.