Heatwave: 400 excess deaths recorded in August

Published on Sep 13, 2023 at 4:14 p.m.

Like every heatwave before it, the August heat wave was deadly in France. Nearly 400 excess deaths, from all causes, were recorded in France, representing an excess mortality of 5.4%, according to initial estimates published this Wednesday by Public Health France (SPF). People aged 75 and over constitute the age group most affected.

This heatwave, the third of summer recalls the national public health agency, took place August 11 and 26. Around fifty departments were concerned, including 19 on red alert.

Overall, nearly one in two metropolitan residents (46.3%) have been confronted with high temperatures in August, over 6.1 days on average. However, these figures hide large disparities between departments.

Heterogeneous impacts

The French have not all been impacted in the same way. “The impacts on mortality are heterogeneous depending on the departments due in particular to the duration (number of days in a heatwave) and the intensity (temperatures) of the episode, but also the period of occurrence and the type of population affected », notes SPF. Thus, the figures fluctuate between absence of excess mortality and relative excess mortality greater than 20% in certain departments, such as Lot or Aveyron.

At the regional level, New Aquitaine pays the heaviest price, with 120 excess deaths (+9.5%). Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes is not spared either with 169 excess deaths (+7.3%). However, no work accident linked to heat has been recorded.

These partial data must still be consolidated. SPF will publish, at the end of summer, a final estimate of excess mortality over the entire summer and detailed by heatwave as well as deaths specifically attributable to heat. SPF reminds that heat “remains more than ever a health risk in a context of climate change, including outside periods of heatwave”.

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