Nighttime heat strongly increases stroke risk, study finds

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A recent study led by Dr. Alexandra Schneider from Helmholtz Munich and the Augsburg University Hospital has revealed a significant connection between high nighttime temperatures and an increased risk of stroke.

This research highlights the growing health risks associated with climate change, particularly as night temperatures rise faster than daytime temperatures.

The findings aim to aid in developing preventive measures and improving patient care.

Study Details and Findings

The study, published in the European Heart Journal, analyzed 15 years of data from Augsburg University Hospital’s Department of Neurology, encompassing around 11,000 stroke cases.

The analysis revealed that extreme nighttime heat increased the risk of stroke by 7%. This increase was especially pronounced among elderly people and women, with most diagnosed strokes exhibiting mild symptoms following hot nights.

From 2006 to 2012, hot nights were associated with two additional strokes per year in the study area. However, between 2013 and 2020, this number surged to 33 additional cases annually.

Prof. Michael Ertl, head of the Stroke Unit and neurovascular working group at Augsburg University Hospital, emphasized the significant increase in stroke risk due to rising nighttime temperatures during the latter period.

Implications and Recommendations

The study underscores the urgent need for adjustments in urban planning and healthcare to mitigate the risks posed by high nighttime temperatures. Dr. Cheng He, the study’s lead author, noted the importance of these adjustments to protect vulnerable populations better.

The researchers are developing recommendations for public adaptation strategies and urban planning, such as reducing urban heat islands, to help safeguard the population from the effects of nighttime heat.

The findings are also crucial for hospitals, which can use weather forecasts predicting hot nights to anticipate an increase in stroke cases.

This foresight allows hospitals to allocate more staff and resources to manage the expected rise in patients, as explained by Prof. Markus Naumann, Director of the Neurological University Hospital in Augsburg.

Understanding Tropical Nights

The study introduces the concept of “tropical nights,” defined using the Hot Night Excess Index (HNE).

This index measures the degree to which nighttime temperatures exceed a certain threshold, which is determined as the temperature exceeded only on the warmest 5% of nights during the study period.

For this research, the threshold was set at 14.6°C. Nights where temperatures exceed this threshold are categorized as tropical nights, with the HNE index quantifying the intensity of the heat.

Future Directions

The researchers plan to use their findings as a foundation for further studies to develop targeted preventive measures against stroke-promoting factors. Dr. Schneider emphasized the importance of early implementation of these measures to maximize their effectiveness.

By understanding the impact of high nighttime temperatures on stroke risk, communities and healthcare systems can better prepare and adapt to the challenges posed by climate change.

This study not only provides valuable insights into the health risks of rising temperatures but also paves the way for practical solutions to protect public health.

If you care about stroke, please read studies about how to eat to prevent stroke, and diets high in flavonoids could help reduce stroke risk.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about how Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and wild blueberries can benefit your heart and brain.

The research findings can be found in European Heart Journal.

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