Vulnerability to extreme-heat-associated hospitalization in three counties in Michigan, USA, 2000-2009

With climate change, extreme heat (EH) events are increasing, so it is important to understand who is vulnerable to heat-associated morbidity. We determined the association between EH and hospitalizations for all natural causes; cardiovascular, respiratory, and renal diseases; diabetes mellitus; and acute myocardial infarction in Michigan, USA, at different intensities and durations. We assessed confounding by ozone and how individual characteristics and health insurance payer (a proxy for income) modified these associations. We obtained Michigan Inpatient Database, National Climatic Data Center, and US Environmental Protection Agency ozone data for May-September, 2000-2009 for three Michigan counties. We employed a case-crossover design and modeled EH as an indicator for temperature above the 95th, 97th, or 99th percentile thresholds for 1, 2, 3, or 4 days. We examined effect modification by patient age, race, sex, and health insurance payer and pooled the county results. Among non-whites, the pooled odds ratio for hospitalization on EH (97th percentile threshold) vs. non-EH days for renal diseases was 1.37 (95 % CI = 1.13-1.66), which increased with increasing EH intensity, but was null among whites (OR = 1.00, 95 % CI = 0.81, 1.25). We observed a null association between EH and cardiovascular hospitalization. EH (99th percentile threshold) was associated with myocardial infarction hospitalizations. Confounding by ozone was minimal. EH was associated with hospitalizations for renal disease among non-whites. This information on vulnerability to heat-associated morbidity helps characterize the public health burden of EH and target interventions including patient education.