Minerva

Excess winter deaths and other stories

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i351 (Published 28 January 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i351

Measuring excess winter deaths

Cold weather has been linked to death at least as far back as Hippocrates (ca 400 BC). The highest proportion of extra winter deaths in Europe is in Malta (29.4%), reflecting the “warm country paradox,” whereby people not accustomed to cold weather protect themselves least and suffer most. The metrics of cold related death are discussed in a fascinating paper from Ulster (J Public Health doi:10.1093/pubmed/fdv184), which proposes a measure based on the number of days when heating is needed to keep the temperature above 18°C. Unfortunately over 26 years, only 27 months in Ulster have exceeded an average outside temperature of 15.5°C.

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