, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 379-392
Date: 27 Jan 2010

Human mortality seasonality in Castile-León, Spain, between 1980 and 1998: the influence of temperature, pressure and humidity

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This study was carried out in the region of Castile and Leon, Spain, from 1980 to 1998 and analyzes the relationship between the number of monthly deaths caused by cardiovascular, respiratory and digestive diseases and three meteorological variables: temperature, pressure and humidity. One of the innovations in this study is the application of principal component analysis in a way that differs from its usual application: one single series representing the whole region was constructed for each meteorological variable from the series of eight weather stations. Annual and seasonal mortality trends were also studied. Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in Castile and Leon. The mortality related to cardiovascular, respiratory and digestive systems shows a statistically significant rising trend across the study period (an annual increase of 6, 16 and 4‰, respectively). The pressure at which mortality is lowest is approximately the same for all causes of death (about 915 hPa), but temperature values vary greatly (16.8–19.7°C for the mean, 10.9–18.1°C for the minimum, and 24.1–27.2°C for the maximum temperature). The most comfortable temperatures for patients with cardiovascular diseases (16.8°C) are apparently lower than those for patients with respiratory diseases (18.1°C), which are, in turn, lower than in the case of diseases of the digestive system (19.7°C). Finally, the optimal humidity for patients with respiratory diseases is the lowest (24%) among the diseases, and the highest (51%) corresponds to diseases of the digestive system, while the optimal relative humidity for the cardiovascular system is 45%.