Climate change ‘will increase heart deaths’

Many more people will die of heart problems as global warming continues, experts are warning.Climate extremes of hot and cold will become more common and this will puts strain on people’s hearts, doctors say.A study in the British Medical Journal found that each 1C temperature drop on a single day in the UK is linked to 200 extra heart attacks.Heatwaves, meanwhile, increase heart deaths from other causes, as shown by the events in Paris during summer 2003.

Over 11,000 people died in France’s heatwave in the first half of August of that year when temperatures rose to over 40C. Many of these were sudden cardiac deaths related to heart conditions other than heart attack.That same summer, record-breaking temperatures led to 2,000 excess deaths in the UK.

And experts predict that by the 2080s events similar to these will happen every year.The risks posed by extreme spells of hot and cold are largely within two weeks of exposure and are greatest for the most frail – the elderly and those with heart problems already, say experts.

In the BMJ study, researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine analysed data on over 84,000 patients admitted to hospital with a heart attack between 2003 and 2006 and compared this with daily temperatures in England and Wales. They found that a 1C reduction in average daily temperature was linked with a cumulative 2% increase in risk of heart attack for 28 days, even in the summer.

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