The impact of cold weather on respiratory morbidity at Emory Healthcare in Atlanta.


Unusually cold weather influenced P&I ED visits and admissions in this population.

Research on temperature and respiratory hospitalizations is lacking in the southeastern U.S. where cold weather is relatively rare. This retrospective study examined the association between cold waves and pneumonia and influenza (P&I) emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations in three metro-Atlanta hospitals.

The odds of a P&I ED visit approximately one week after a cold wave were increased by as much as 11%, and odds of an ED visit resulting in hospitalization increased by 8%. For ED visits on days with minimum temperatures >20 °C, there was an increase of 10-15% in relative risk (RR) for short lags (0-2 days), and a slight decrease in RR (0-5%) one week later. For minimum temperatures <0 °C, RR decreased at short lags (5-10%) before increasing (1-5%) one week later. Hospital admissions exhibited a similar, but muted, pattern.

We used a case-crossover design, restricting data to the cooler seasons of 2009-2019, to determine whether cold waves influenced ED visits and hospitalizations. This analysis considered effects by race/ethnicity, age, sex, and severity of comorbidities. We used generalized additive models and distributed lag non-linear models to examine these relationships over a 21-day lag period.

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