Background: in population-based studies, age and morbidity were associated with heat-related mortality. The nursing home population reveals both factors and may represent a highly vulnerable subgroup. Therefore, temperature-mortality relationship was examined in residents of nursing homes.
Methods: the association between daily ambient maximum temperature and mortality was analysed in 95,808 nursing home residents in southwest Germany between 2001 and 2005. Time series analyses were applied across age groups, sex and functional abilities. In addition, excess mortality was determined for the 2003 heat wave.
Results: mortality risk was lowest at maximum temperatures between 16 and 25.9 degrees Celsius. Risk increased by 26 and 62% at days of 32.0-33.9 and 34 degrees Celsius and more, respectively. In August 2003, heat caused >400 additional deaths in the observed population and was followed by only a moderate mortality displacement in the following months. The excess number of deaths during the heat wave was particularly high in residents aged > or = 90 years and in residents with higher care needs.
Conclusion: high ambient temperature was associated with an increased mortality risk in all analysed subgroups of the nursing home population. Medical competence and supervision are available in nursing homes and should, therefore, be favourable preconditions for the implementation of preventive measures.