Home Database Publication and reports Number of HeatWave Deaths by Diagnosis, Sex, Age Groups, and Area, in Slovenia, 2015 vs. 2003
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Publications and Reports

Number of HeatWave Deaths by Diagnosis, Sex, Age Groups, and Area, in Slovenia, 2015 vs. 2003


Current climate change is predicted to lead to more frequent and more intense extreme weather events, including heatwaves. In Slovenia, major heat-waves occurred in summers of 2003 and 2015 . Each heatwave led to excess deaths and, at the same time, increased longevity is changing society’s demographics, which will very likely have a direct impact on population health. Many studies have previously shown that the elderly are among the most vulnerable in heatwaves. Understanding which causes of mortality are affected by heat is important for preventing heat-related deaths, particularly in the vulnerable subgroups.

The practically applicable results of this study are:

  • The heatwave associated deaths increased in 2015 compared to 2003.
  • The most vulnerable population during heat waves in Slovenia are the elderly (75 years of age and more).
  • Elevated relative risk ratio (RRR) when comparing 2015 and 2003 for specific causes of death in heat waves contributes to identification of vulnerable subgroup (persons with circulatory system diseases), for further confirmation it would be interesting to consider morbidity.
  • Limitations are that the study is based on a very small number of the observed daily deaths due to the small population of Slovenia, and evidently confidence intervals are very wide in this analysis, so any interpretation is burdened by speculation and incomplete answers. On the other hand, only underlying causes of deaths were recorded and it would be interesting to know if any other diseases, injuries, conditions, or events contributed to the death toll. Also confounding factors were not considered, these are also associated with elevated deaths during summer: summer oxidation smog, other outdoor air pollutants, indoor living conditions and socio-economic status.

The results of these analyses by the National Institute of Public Health showed that the most vulnerable groups, which are old people and those with circulatory diseases, increased in 2015 compared to 2003. Therefore, the National Institute of Public Health must take particular care of these vulnerable population groups in case of heat-waves as people will live longer and obviously in Slovenia all chronic non-communicable diseases increase, and heat-waves will be more pronounced. Consequently, the burden of deaths during heatwaves in these population subgroups is expected to rise over the next years. To stop this trend, additional public health interventions are needed. For the dissemination of information and advice to vulnerable population groups, the use of mass-media  is sufficient in Slovenia due to the small population size and other relevant public health efforts. In the future, the National Institute of Public Health intends to have a series of workshops across the country to increase awareness about the impact of heatwaves on population health.

Reference information

National Institute of Public Health

Published in Climate-ADAPT Nov 08 2018   -   Last Modified in Climate-ADAPT Dec 12 2023

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