Author: Mónica Rodrigues, Paula Santana, Alfredo Rocha

Year: 2019

Published in: Environmental Health volume 18, Article number: 25 (2019)

There has been increasing interest in assessing the impacts of extreme temperatures on mortality due to diseases of the circulatory system. This is further relevant for future climate scenarios where marked changes in climate are expected. This paper presents a solid method do identify the relationship between extreme temperatures and mortality risk by using as predictors simulated temperature data for cold and hot conditions in two urban areas in Portugal.


Based on the mortality and meteorological data from Porto Metropolitan Area (PMA) and Lisbon Metropolitan Area (LMA), a distributed lag nonlinear model (DLNM) was implemented to estimate the temperature effects on mortality due to diseases of the circulatory system. The performance of the models was validated via bootstrapping approaching by creating resamples with replacement from the validating data. Bootstrapping was also used to identify the best candidate model and to evaluate the sensitivity of the spline functions to the exposure-lag-response relationship.


It is found that the model is able to reproduce the temperature-related mortality risk for two metropolitan areas. Temperature previously simulated by climate models is useful and even better than observed temperature. Although, the biases in predictions in both metropolitan areas are low, mortality risk predictions in PMA are more accurate than in LMA. Using parametric bootstrapping, we found that the overall cumulative association estimated under different bi-dimensional exposure-lag-response relationship are relatively stable, especially for the model selected by Quasi-Akaike Information Criteria (QAIC). Exposure to summer temperature conditions is best related to mortality risk. The association between winter temperature and mortality risk is somewhat less strong.


The use of QAIC to choose from several candidate models provides valid predictions and reduced the uncertainty in the estimated relative risk for circulatory disease mortality. Our findings can be applied to better understand the characteristics and facilitate the prevention of circulatory disease mortality in Porto and Lisbon Metropolitan Areas, namely if we consider the actual context of climate change.

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