US: The number of Americans losing their lives because of heat-related heart problems and strokes could soar over the next few decades as the temperature keeps on rising, as revealed by a new study.
While addressing climate change and its effect on Americans, the latest study published on October 30 in the journal Circulation estimated that the deaths caused by the rising temperature due to greenhouse gas emissions would increase by triple-fold from mid-century in the US.
The study has further revealed that the hardest-hit population will be older adults and Black Americans. The lead researcher, Dr Sameed Khatana, a cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, was quoted, “Our study suggests there could be a benefit from reducing emissions, and within a short time frame.”
According to the reports, strokes, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular complications have been triggered by the heat waves.
The reason behind this is explained by Dr Khatana, who outlined that the body temperature is regulated through the heart and blood vessels, combined, known as the cardiovascular system. After the body overheats, the heart starts pumping blood harder to the periphery of the body to release heat through sweat.
Dr further outlined, “We also know the number of extreme heat days is projected to increase.”
The combination of a growing elderly population and more people relocating to hotter regions in the country suggested a clear problem – an increase in heat-related cardiovascular deaths. Dr Khatana’s team examined data on cardiovascular deaths and extremely hot days in US counties from 2008 to 2019. They considered days when it felt like 90 degrees or more as “extreme heat.”
During these years, the researchers estimate that extreme heat led to an average of 1,651 extra cardiovascular deaths each year – these are deaths that would not have occurred without the extreme heat.
Using these findings, along with predictions about changes in the environment and population, the researchers projected the situation for the next few decades, from 2036 to 2065. Unfortunately, the outlook was quite grim.
The heat-related cardiovascular deaths are still surging, more than doubling to an average of 4,320 per year.
One reason for this increase is that the number of extremely hot days will go up, from 54 days a year in recent times to 71 days.
Other factors causing cardiovascular complications
Another point highlighted by Dr. Khatana underscored that despite the study focusing on heat-related deaths, some also highlighted that Americans suffer non-fatal cardiovascular complications during heat waves, according to the health website HealthDay. The experts have suggested that these complications are so severe that they could send them to the hospitals, and lasting effects can be seen on their health and quality of life.
Dr further mentioned, “Cardiovascular deaths are just the tip of the iceberg.”