Climate crisis is contributing to increased deaths from heart disease

New research has discovered around one in 100 heart disease deaths have been linked to being exposed to extreme hot or cold temperatures. 

Published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, Experts analysed health data from more than 32 million heart disease deaths in over 500 countries between 1979 and 2019. 

selective focus photography of heart organ illustration

Researchers from the University of Maryland Medical Centre and the School of Medicine measured more deaths on days when were temperatures were at their highest or lowest.

Haitham Khraishah MD, Cardiovasular Disease Fellow at the University, said the study ‘underscores the urgent need to develop measures that will help our society mitigate the impact of climate change on cardiovascular disease.’

According to researchers finders, people with heart problems are at a 12% greater risk of dying on extreme hot or cold days compared to optimal temperature days around the globe. Extreme cold conditions in particular, increased the risk of heart failure by 37%.

Currently the effects of the climate crisis can be seen in full force. This year, England recorded a record high of 40 degrees in the summer and temperatures this week are set to drop to as low as minus nine degrees.

In Scotland weather warnings have been issued as they are about to endure the coldest night of the year with temperatures estimated to decline to minus 15.

Dr. Khraishah, a researcher involved in the study said: ‘While we do not know the reason why temperature effects were more pronounced with heart failure patients it could be due to the progressive nature of heart failure as a disease.

‘One out of four people with heart failure are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge, and only 20% of patients with heart failure will survive 10 years after diagnosis.’

Stephen N. Davis, Chair if the Department of Medicine at the University Maryland School of Medicine said: ‘This landmark paper is a call to view climate change as a growing public health concern and highlights the need to investigate it as a potential cause of health disparities.’

Photo by jesse orrico


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