470 deaths and 225 hospitalizations attributable to each summer in Quebec

470 deaths and 225 hospitalizations attributable to each summer in Quebec
470 deaths and 225 hospitalizations attributable to each summer in Quebec

High temperatures have a very significant harmful impact on Quebec’s health system, a team from the National Institute of Scientific Research has demonstrated, a finding that is all the more important since such events are likely to increase in the context of climatic changes.

The researchers thus discovered that the impacts on the health system are felt all summer long, and not only when the province is swept by at least three consecutive days of very high temperatures.

“We really attacked the problem with temperatures that are high all summer, and not just for three days,” explained the lead author of the article, Jérémie Boudreault.

More specifically, the scientists sought to quantify heat-related mortality and morbidity based on five health parameters, all causes combined: mortality, hospitalizations, emergency room visits, ambulance transports and calls to Info -Health, for all health regions of Quebec.

They thus measured that, each summer in Quebec, high temperatures are associated with 470 deaths, 225 hospitalizations, 36,000 emergency room visits, 7,200 ambulance transports and 15,000 calls to Info-Santé.

This health burden was especially concentrated during the 5% of the hottest days of the summer, with nearly 200 deaths, 170 hospitalizations, 6,200 emergency room visits, 1,500 ambulance transports and 3,300 calls to Info-Santé.

Heat, added Mr. Boudreault, affects all components of the health system, without any exception.

“It is important to have this information in a context of climate change, for example to have adequate personnel to face periods of prolonged heat,” he said.

If we know that calls to Info-Santé will increase, cited Mr. Boudreault as an example, “this will allow us to plan to avoid a shortage of personnel.”

Previous studies carried out on the subject in Quebec did not measure the impact of periods of extreme heat lasting less than three days, even if historical data shows that they still have an impact on the health system, a added Mr. Boudreault, who is a candidate for the tailor-made doctoral program in data science and environmental health at INRS and who carried out this work under the supervision of Professor Fateh Chebana.

It is important to look at the bigger picture, said Mr. Boudreault.

“What can we see to send a message to the Ministry of Health or even to the government?,” he explained. Here are the impacts we have and here are what the impacts will be in the future. I think that this really provides a solid argument to say that we must put measures in place to reduce this burden, which is going to be greater and greater. »

The findings of this study were published by the scientific journal Environmental Research.

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