Background: Epidemiological studies have provided compelling evidence of associations between ambient temperature and cardiovascular disease. However, evidence of effects of daily temperature variability on cardiovascular disease is scarce and mixed. We aimed to examine short-term associations between temperature variability and hospital admissions for cause-specific cardiovascular disease in urban China.
Methods and findings: We conducted a national time-series analysis in 184 cities in China between 2014 and 2017. Data on daily hospital admissions for ischemic heart disease, heart failure, heart rhythm disturbances, and ischemic stroke were obtained from the database of Urban Employee Basic Medical Insurance (UEBMI) including 0.28 billion enrollees. Temperature data were acquired from the China Meteorological Data Sharing Service Center. Temperature variability was calculated from the standard deviation (SD) of daily minimum and maximum temperatures over exposure days. City-specific associations between temperature variability and cardiovascular disease were examined with overdispersed Poisson models controlling for calendar time, day of the week, public holiday, and daily mean temperature and relative humidity. Random-effects meta-analyses were performed to obtain national and regional average associations. We also plotted exposure-response relationship curve using a natural cubic spline of temperature variability. There were 8.0 million hospital admissions for cardiovascular disease during the study period. At the national-average level, a 1-°C increase in temperature variability at 0-1 days (TV0-1) was associated with a 0.44% (0.32%-0.55%), 0.31% (0.20%-0.43%), 0.48% (0.01%-0.96%), 0.34% (0.01%-0.67%), and 0.82% (0.59%-1.05%) increase in hospital admissions for cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease, heart failure, heart rhythm disturbances, and ischemic stroke, respectively. The estimates decreased but remained significant when controlling for ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5), NO2, and SO2 pollution. The main limitation of the present study was the unavailability of data on individual exposure to temperature variability.
Conclusions: Our findings suggested that short-term temperature variability exposure could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, which may provide new insights into the health effects of climate change.