Extreme weather accounts for 1 in every 100 heart disease deaths, new analysis reveals as UK temperatures dip
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A multinational analysis of over 30 millions cardiovascular deaths has unearthed new information on how extreme weather conditions are to account for a number of heart-disease related deaths. For every 1,000 cardiovascular deaths, 2.2 excess deaths were associated with extreme hot days, and 9.1 were associated with extreme cold days, the study has shown.
The study, published by the American Heart Association’s Circulation journal, believes that more should be done to mitigate those with underlying heart problems from exposure to such extreme temperatures - much like those felt in the UK during the summer and currently during the winter. The study suggests both extreme hot and extreme cold temperatures increase the risk of death among individuals with cardiovascular disease such as a stroke, heart failure, and arrhythmia.
The research, undertaken by lead author Dr. Barrak Alahmad, shows that in hot weather, people who are older, obese, have high blood pressure, or have a history of heart disease need to take precautions like avoiding the outdoors in the early afternoon and staying hydrated. This is because on extremely hot days, the heart shifts blood from major organs to underneath the skin, where it is cooler.
“Sweating also happens;this could lead to volume depletion that increases heart rate. Increased core body temperature will also increase the metabolic state and oxygen consumption. Then you might also experience fluid shifts and electrolytes imbalance,” Dr. Alahmad explained.
However, extreme cold weather can also lead to cardiovascular problems, Dr. Alahmad revealed. “Blood vessels will constrict, and skeletal muscles will increase tone to preserve and generate heat. This will increase blood pressure.
“Some researchers suggested that cold makes cholesterol crystals deposit in blood vessels and causes heart attacks. Other researchers showed that cold makes your blood more sticky, and that also increases the risk of heart attacks.”
The study has led to a call by healthcare professionals in the United States for more action regarding global warming and climate change, given its continued effect on human life. “We need to be on top of emerging environmental exposures” Dr. Alamahad concluded. “In this rapidly changing climate and [at an unprecedented] pace of warming, it is not the time to be asleep at the driving wheel.”