A recent study discovered a troubling link between heart disease and extreme temperatures after analyzing over 40 years of data from regions around the world.
An international team of researchers pored over roughly 32 million cardiovascular deaths that were associated with extreme heat or extreme cold. From this large evidence pool, consistent patterns emerged.
For every 1,000 cardiovascular deaths, 11.3 were the result of very cold or very hot environmental conditions. Of that number, 2.2 can be attributed to high heat and 9.1 to cold.
Patients suffering from heart failure were found to have a greater chance of death from these extremes. They’re 12% more likely to die on extremely hot days, and 37% more likely to die on extremely cold days.
The study admits there are specific locations (like much of the Middle East) where data could not be collected, which means the risks associated with extreme heat are under-reported and are likely higher in actuality.
The implications of these figures are significant for a world undergoing global warming. As summers get hotter on average and as the frequency and intensity of heat waves increase, more people are likely to suffer as a result.
While grim, the study also provides an excellent opportunity to devise and implement survival strategies that can help protect persons with increased risk against instances of extreme temperatures.
There are plenty of good places to start. For one, you can invest in alternative methods of heating and cooling that are not reliant on your city’s power grid — as those grids are susceptible to blackouts during stress periods. Additionally, it’s good to have an action plan in case of a cardiovascular emergency.
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