Extreme heat waves may increase death in heart disease

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Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania found that extreme heat waves have a deadly connection with cardiovascular mortality.

The research is published in JAMA Network Open and Circulation and was conducted by Sameed Khatana et al.

In the first paper, the team analyzed intersected periods of extreme heat with records of adult deaths from all causes across the country’s 3,108 contiguous counties from 2008 to 2017.

Previous research on extreme heat and mortality had focused on a limited number of urban areas.

In this new work, the researchers found higher levels of all-cause mortality in those extreme heat periods with a greater increase in deaths among older adults, males, and Blacks.

The second study intersected periods of extreme heat in all counties with records of monthly cardiovascular deaths from 2008 to 2017.

Researchers found extreme heat associated with an estimated 5,958 additional cardiovascular disease deaths in the counties during the period.

The increase in deaths was greater among males compared to females, and greater for Blacks compared to whites.

Extreme heat interferes with the body’s ability to cool itself, as blood vessels in the skin widen to allow more blood flow to dissipate heat from the body outward into the air.

To achieve this, the body automatically redirects a portion of the blood that would normally be in major organs to the widened skin vessels and accelerates the heart’s pumping to maintain adequate blood pressure.

But in people with cardiovascular conditions, the heart is not able to meet this demand for more vigorous pumping.

Heat kills more people every year than any other kind of weather event, including hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cites 1,300 deaths per year according to death certificates, but notes that “extreme heat contributes to far more deaths than the official death certificates might suggest.”

This is also true in the case of cardiovascular-related heat deaths because extreme heat affects the heart in ways that sometimes don’t manifest as health emergencies until days later—and case records don’t reflect the connection.

The population-wide incidence of cardiovascular disease in general and cardiovascular-related extreme heat deaths are steadily increasing at the same time climate change is driving more heat waves, with higher temperatures covering wider areas of the country.

The American Heart Association predicts that 45% of people in the U.S. will have at least one cardiovascular health issue by 2035.

Meanwhile, climate scientists predict heat waves will only get more severe between now and the 2030s unless dramatic steps are taken to curtail global warming—steps that don’t seem likely as efforts to mitigate climate change lag behind in almost all countries.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about heart problems linked to 5 times higher death risk in COVID-19, and this vitamin could prevent muscle damage after a heart attack.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about antioxidant drug that could help prevent heart attacks and strokes, and results showing that drinking coffee this way can help prevent stroke, and heart disease.

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