January 30, 2009

827 died from frigid temperatures in 2006

Hypothermia and other cold-related heath problems resulted in more than 6,000 U.S. hospitalizations and 827 deaths in 2006, health officials said.

A report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said of the 6,182 cold weather-related hospitalizations:

-- 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 seven times more likely than people age 18-44 and three times as likely as people age 45-64.

-- 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.

The report is based on hospital stays resulting from excessive heat and cold exposure due to weather conditions in U.S. community hospitals in 2005, but updated to reflect 2006 statistics.