Introduction The influence of meteorological variables on the incidence of ischemic stroke has been described in neurological literature. The link between weather conditions and overall morbidity and mortality has been established, with an increase during the winter months and during periods of extreme heat. Conversely, certain studies have established a link between lower temperatures and ischemic events. The equivocal data demands further inquiry into the connection between weather variable and ischemic events. Since certain studies on the association of stroke and meteorological variable are based in areas of very specific, extreme weather patterns the results may not be generalizable to more temperate climates. We aim to investigate the role of meteorological variables on the rate of ischemic events in a representative east coast inner city population.
Methods A database of stroke patients treated at University Hospital in Newark, NJ, from 7.2009 to 7.2010 was used. Standardized data collection were utilized, including demographic, relevant medical history, medications, laboratory data on admission, vitals on admission, and disease course. Consecutive days with stroke admissions as well as singleton days with multiple stroke admissions were classified as clusters. Data from the national weather database data from the event dates recorded at the Newark airport weather station located 5.4 miles from University Hospital as well as the weather underground database (wunderground.com), collected 1.1 miles away from University Hospital was compared on ischemic event vs no ischemic event days as well as cluster vs non-cluster days. Data were analyzed using ANOVA to compare weather parameter as follows: (1) dates with ischemic events to days without ischemic event; (2) cluster vs non-cluster days.
Results During the study period, 297 ischemic events were treated at University Hospital, 267 with ischemic stroke and 30 with TIA. The variation of monthly admission rates was insignificant. Analysis of the data revealed a statistically significant correlation between a decrease in max temperature, min temperature, average temp, dew point, and wet bulb temperature and an increased incidence of stroke. Likewise, a statistically significant decrease in those variables was also associated with increased clustering of ischemic events (p<0.01).
Conclusion Lower temperatures as well decrease in relative humidity (measured by wet bulb temperature and dew point) are associated with an increased hospital admission rate for ischemic stroke and TIA.
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