Dr Christine Manser and colleagues evaluated the effect of heat waves on flares of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and infectious gastroenteritis.
In this retrospective controlled observational study, data from 738 IBD and 786 infectious gastroenteritis patients admitted to the University Hospital of Zurich in the years 2001–2005, as well as from 506 other noninfectious chronic intestinal inflammations, which were used as control, were collected.
Climate data were obtained from the Swiss Federal Office for Meteorology and Climatology.
The team found that the presence of a heat wave increased the risk of IBD flares by 4.6%, and of infectious gastroenteritis flares by 4.7% for every additional day within a heat wave period.
The research team observed that in the control group there was no significant effect.
Screening of alternative forms for the effect of heat waves suggested that for infectious gastroenteritis the effect is strongest when lagged by 7 days, whereas for IBD no such transformation was required.
Other formulations with additive effects, interactions between heat waves and time of the year, and additional adjustments for daily average temperature did not show any improvement in model fit.
Dr Manser's team concluded, "In this retrospective controlled observational study, we found a substantial increase in hospital admissions because of flares of IBD and infectious gastroenteritis during heat wave periods."
"Whereas the effect on infectious gastroenteritis is strongest with a delay of 7 days, the effect on IBD flares is immediate, suggesting different mechanisms."