Climate Epidemiology

Climate change profoundly affects human health in multiple ways, including the direct health effects of ambient temperature and extreme weather events. Our research has advanced our understanding of how extreme temperatures can affect a comprehensive spectrum of diseases, including myocardial infarction (i.e., heart attack), unintentional injuries, and mental disorders. Our ongoing and future work will investigate the understudied climate-disease associations, including a new project on the associations between extreme precipitation, floods, drought, and childhood diarrhea.

Rising population susceptibility to heat-related risk of myocardial infarction

This epidemiologic study in Augsburg, Germany found evidence of rising population susceptibility to heat-related myocardial infarction risk from 1987 to 2014, suggesting that exposure to heat should be considered as an environmental trigger of MI, especially under a warming climate.

Chen et al. European Heart Journal, 2019.

Rural-urban disparity in heat-related mortality risk

This study demonstrated more substantial effects of heat on mortality in rural vs. urban areas and revealed some of the factors that drove the enhanced risk in rural areas, such as lower access to health care, lower education, less air conditioning, and more percentage of the elderly. Under climate change, these rural residents in developing countries could suffer from more heat-related mortality in the future than urban residents.

Chen et al. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2016.

A comprehensive spectrum of diseases associated with extreme temperatures

This time-series study quantified the mortality burden attributable to heat and cold for a comprehensive spectrum of plausible diseases, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, myocardial infarction, stroke, hypertensive heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and diabetes.

Ma et al. Environment International. 2020.

Extreme heat and emergency room visits related to mental disorders

In collaboration with Dr. Eun-hye Yoo at the State University of New York at Buffalo, our study reveals the adverse effects of heat on mental disorders (e.g. mood and anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and dementia) in the New York State.

Yoo et al. Science of the Total Environment, 2021.