As Extreme Heat Increases, So Will Cardiovascular Deaths

According to a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-)-supported study, the number of cardiovascular fatalities in the United States that result from intense heat is predicted to increase countrywide between 2036 and 2065.

Following the research published in the journal Circulation, Black adults and adults 65 and older are expected to be disproportionately impacted.

The scientists say heat is currently responsible for just 1% of cardiovascular fatalities. However, experts predict that will alter as temperatures rise and more summer days feel like 90 degrees or more. As a result, with excess heat will come excess deaths.

The health burdens from extreme heat will continue to grow within the next several decades.

- Sameed A. Khatana, study author and cardiologist

With extreme temperatures, the body needs to work harder to maintain a normal core temperature, which puts additional strain on the kidneys, lungs, and heart.

This implies that having a cardiac issue may put someone at a higher risk and could lead to an increase in deaths. Therefore, it's very crucial to stay hydrated and cool during warmer months. For those with limited access to air conditioning on extreme heat days, this is incredibly important.

Khatana adds that the uneven effects of intense heat on distinct demographics make this a health equity issue, with the potential to worsen pre-existing health inequities.

Heat and heart health

Researchers predict that between 2036 and 2065, the number of heat-related cardiovascular fatalities in the general population will increase by 2.6 times, from 1,651 to 4,320, taking into account the expected future temperatures.

For older and Black residents, projections were more noticeable. During that time, the number of cardiovascular fatalities in older persons due to extreme temperatures might almost triple, from 1,340 to 3,842.

In their study, researchers took into consideration a number of variables, including age, underlying preexisting health disparities, and place of residence. People with underlying health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, can react differently and run a higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke due to an increase in temperature.

With the new findings, the health of communities, especially older Black communities, should be considered as this is a matter of health equity triggered by the impacts of climate change.

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