Winter Weather Hospitalizes Thousands; Kills Hundreds
AHRQ News and Numbers, January 29, 2009
Frigid temperatures, which cause hypothermia and other cold-related heath problems every year, resulted in more than 6,000 hospitalizations and 827 deaths in 2006, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
AHRQ's analysis of 6,182 cold weather-related hospitalizations found:
- Men accounted for about 40 percent more hospitalizations for exposure to cold weather than women.
- People age 65 and older were the most likely to be hospitalized—about 7 times more likely than people age 18 to 44 and 3 times as likely as people age 45 to 64.
- The most common reasons for cold weather-related hospitalizations included hypothermia (which can cause loss of physical and mental abilities and, in extreme cases, death), frostbite, respiratory failure, and pneumonia.
This AHRQ News and Numbers is based on Hospital Stays Resulting from Excessive Heat and Cold Exposure Due to Weather Conditions in U.S. Community Hospitals, 2005, but updated to reflect 2006 statistics from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-Federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.
For other information, or to speak with an AHRQ data expert, please contact Bob Isquith at Bob.Isquith@ahrq.hhs.gov or call (301) 427-1539.