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Geomagnetic disturbances driven by solar activity enhance total and cardiovascular mortality risk in 263 U.S. cities

Carolina Leticia Zilli Vieira, Danilo Alvares, Annelise Blomberg, Joel Schwartz, Brent Coull, Shaodan Huang, Petros Koutrakis
Environmental Health 2019 September 11, 18 (1): 83
31511079

BACKGROUND: Short-term geomagnetic disturbances (GMD) driven by the quasi-periodic 11-year cycle of solar activity have been linked to a broad range of adverse health effects, including cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and total deaths. We conducted a large epidemiological study in 263 U.S. cities to assess the effects of GMD on daily deaths of total, CVD, myocardial infarction (MI), and stroke.

METHODS: We employed a two-step meta-analysis approach, in which we estimated city-specific and season-stratified mortality risk associated with a GMD parameter (Kp index) in 263 U.S. cities. In addition, sensitivity analysis was performed to assess whether effect modification of particulate matter (PM2.5 ) in the prior day changed Kp index effects on daily deaths after adjusting for confounders.

RESULTS: We found significant association between daily GMD and total, CVD, and MI deaths. The effects were even stronger when we adjusted the models for 24-h PM2.5 for different seasons. For example, in the winter and fall one standard deviation of z-score Kp index increase was associated with a 0.13 and 0.31% increase in total deaths, respectively (Winter: p = 0.01, 95% CI: 0.02 to 0.24; Fall: p = 0.00001; 95% CI: 0.23 to 0.4), without adjusting for PM2.5. The effects of GMD on total deaths were also observed in spring and summer in the models without PM2.5 (p = 0.00001). When the models were adjusted for PM2.5 the total deaths increased 0.47% in winter (p = 0.00001, 95% CI: 0.3 to 0.65) and by 0.23% in fall (p = 0.001, 95% CI: 0.09 to 0.37). The effects of GMD were also significant associated with MI deaths and CVD. No positive significant association were found between Kp and stroke. The GMD effects on deaths were higher than for 24 h-PM2.5 alone, especially in spring and fall.

CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that GMD is associated with total, CVD and MI deaths in 263 U. S cities. Increased mortality in the general population during GMD should be further investigated to determine whether those human physiological dynamics driven by variations in solar activity can be related to daily clinical cardiovascular observations.

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