Recent research suggests that winter is more dangerous than most people think, and that is not due to the freezing temperatures. Americans experience winter cold every year, except those living in Hawaii.
The scientists have discovered that normal winter temperatures are as dangerous as crippling blizzards. Although public health specialists always raise awareness about the threat of heat waves, people who die due to extreme cold receive little attention.
During a large-scale study, which covered 384 locations in thirteen countries, the U.S. included, the researchers discovered that cold weather caused twenty times more victims than hot weather.
For instance, the mortality rate is between ten and 15 percent higher in the U.S. during winter than during the summer months. The scientists analyzed the deaths of 74 million people and accounted for the cold and heat factors in the U.S., Spain, Britain, Japan, Sweden, South Korea, China, Australia, Canada, Brazil, Italy, Taiwan, and Thailand.
The scientists discovered that heat waves and freezing temperatures caused less than one percent of overall mortality. However, average temperatures contributed to a higher mortality rate. More precisely, the temperature was related to 7.71% of all deaths.
The researchers believe that normal winter cold hasn’t been taken into consideration until now because it is a slow and stealth killer. No one expected normal temperatures to be the leading factors influencing the mortality rates.
Many deaths usually occur several weeks after a cold snap. Moreover, the majority of cold-related deaths occurs not due to winter sports, falls on ice, or car accidents. They are rather attributable to primary public health concerns such as respiratory disease, stroke, and heart disease.
These conditions are more prevalent in senior patients, whereas heart disease is the top killer in the United States. The specialists say that low temperatures cause far more deaths than heat waves, and most of them are related to a wide range of illnesses, such as pneumonia, flu, strokes, and heart attacks among others.
The study authors say that even in warmer areas, like North Carolina and Southern Europe, cold weather is responsible for more deaths than heat waves. Another surprising fact is that people who live in areas with mild winters have a higher likelihood of dying due to cold-related illnesses than those who live in countries with subfreezing temperatures during the winter months.
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