Background: The effect of extreme temperature has become an increasing public health concern. Evaluating the impact of ambient temperature on morbidity has received less attention than its impact on mortality.
Methods: We performed a systematic literature review and extracted quantitative estimates of the effects of hot temperatures on cardiorespiratory morbidity. There were too few studies on effects of cold temperatures to warrant a summary. Pooled estimates of effects of heat were calculated using a Bayesian hierarchical approach that allowed multiple results to be included from the same study, particularly results at different latitudes and with varying lagged effects.
Results: Twenty-one studies were included in the final meta-analysis. The pooled results suggest an increase of 3.2% (95% posterior interval = -3.2% to 10.1%) in respiratory morbidity with 1°C increase on hot days. No apparent association was observed for cardiovascular morbidity (-0.5% [-3.0% to 2.1%]). The length of lags had inconsistent effects on the risk of respiratory and cardiovascular morbidity, whereas latitude had little effect on either.
Conclusions: The effects of temperature on cardiorespiratory morbidity seemed to be smaller and more variable than previous findings related to mortality.