HealthDay News — For patients undergoing maintenance dialysis, hurricane exposure is associated with increased mortality, according to a study published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
Matthew F. Blum, M.D., from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues examined the mortality risk among patients requiring maintenance dialysis who initiated treatment between Jan. 1, 1997, and Dec. 31, 2017, in one of 108 hurricane-afflicted counties to examine the risk for death in the 30 days after hurricane exposure. Data were included for 187,388 patients (median age, 65 years; 43.7 percent female).
The researchers identified 27 hurricanes and 105,398 deaths in 529,339 person-years of follow-up on dialysis. Overall, 29,849 patients were exposed to one or more hurricanes. After adjustment for demographic and socioeconomic covariates, hurricane exposure was associated with significantly higher mortality (hazard ratio, 1.13). When adjusting for seasonality, the association persisted. In a sensitivity analysis, the hurricane-associated mortality risk was highest one day after hurricane exposure and decreased over time.
“Our findings suggest that dialysis-dependent patients are vulnerable during hurricanes and highlight the need to safeguard this population, especially given the predicted increased hurricane intensity with climate change,” Blum said in a statement. “Anything that disrupts someone’s ability to obtain dialysis — including extreme weather — can put them at risk of death.”