Cooling Kills More Than Warming

Something to keep firmly in mind…

W R Keatinge et al, “Heat related mortality in warm and cold regions of Europe: observational study” BMJ 2000;321:670-673 (16 September)

All regions showed more annual cold related mortality than heat related mortality.

Some of those who died in the heat may not have lived long if a heat wave had not occurred. Mortality often falls below baseline for several days after the end of a heat wave, and this has been interpreted as indicating that some of the people dying during the heat wave were already close to death.

Some of the excess deaths in the cold may have resulted from non-thermal seasonal factors such as winter diet, but deaths due to such factors are likely to be few.

Falls in temperature in winter are closely followed by increased mortality, with characteristic time courses for different causes of death.

The increases are of sufficient size to account for the overall increase in mortality in winter, suggesting that most excess winter deaths are due to relatively direct effects of cold on the population.

In other words: Heat kills the already-dying. Cold kills.

As per the following diagrams: the slopes to the left (cooling) of the “black squares” (minimum mortality temperature bands) are steeper than to the right (warming).