Excess mortality observed during the three heat waves of this summer

Public Health France points to an excess of mortality throughout the summer, and in particular during the three episodes of heat wave which affected the metropolitan territory.

After the scorching summer known on the metropolitan territory, it is time to take stock. Santé Publique France notes in a press release published on Monday evening that the “multiple climatic phenomena” that occurred during this summer, which was “the hottest since 1900”, had “a significant health impact”.

The summer monitoring period, between September 1 and 15, was marked in particular by three episodes of heat waves, during which excess mortality was observed.

This is estimated at 2,816 deaths, all causes combined, in the departments concerned by these episodes, i.e. 16.7% more deaths than in the absence of a heat wave during the same period. People over the age of 75 were the most affected, with 2,272 excess deaths.

A particular context

Santé Publique France also notes that these heat wave episodes took place in “a particular context”, “in terms of health with a resurgence of the Covid-19 epidemic but also in terms of climate”.

Indeed, 894 deaths linked to the Covid-19 epidemic were recorded in hospitals and medico-social establishments during heat waves.

But it cannot be subtracted from the excess mortality observed during heat waves because “Covid-19 may have increased vulnerability to heat for some people, and exposure to heat may have worsened the condition of some affected patients” by the virus, specifies Public Health France.

An excess mortality of more than 6% over the summer period

The public agency also looked at the mortality figures over the entire summer monitoring period. Here again, it observes an excess mortality of 6.1% on the metropolitan territory, or 10,420 excess deaths.

“Part of this excess summer mortality is probably due to exposure of the population to high heat but for temperatures that do not reach the heat wave alert thresholds”, she notes, indicating that she has launched more research. thorough.

During this period, seven reports of fatal work accidents possibly linked to heat were also notified by the General Labor Directorate. They concern men aged 39 to 54, and professional activities carried out mainly outdoors.

A sharp increase in emergency room visits

Finally, on the side of the use of care, more than 17,000 visits to the emergency room and 3,000 SOS Doctors consultations were recorded throughout the summer, for hyperthermia, dehydration and hyponametry. Figures respectively two and three times higher during periods of heat waves than outside.

“These recourses to emergency care do not make it possible to predict the impact of heat on mortality”, still warns Public Health France.

For the agency, this report underlines “the importance of anticipating the impact of heat before periods of heat wave” and points to the “need for a strategy of adaptation and mitigation to reinforced climate change” on the whole territory.

Caroline Dieudonné, with Emilie Roussey

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