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New Research Suggests That Extreme Heat Could Cause A 233% Increase In Cardiovascular Deaths Over The Next 50 Years If Greenhouse Gas Emissions Are Not Significantly Curbed

They also took into account related variables like age, gender, race, ethnicity, and the occurrence of extreme heat days—designated as days when the maximum heat index reached or exceeded 90°F (32.22°C)—in the month of each death.

The heat index, which takes into account both temperature and humidity to gauge how hot it actually feels to the human body, played a vital role in the study. This is because high humidity can hinder the body’s natural cooling mechanism through sweating.

Their findings indicate that even if we fully execute and stick to the currently proposed emission cuts, there would still be a 162% uptick in extra heart-related deaths from extreme heat by the middle of the century, relative to the baseline from 2008-2019.

Conversely, if efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions fall short, the extra cardiovascular deaths due to extreme heat are projected to climb by 233% in the years ahead.

The research underscores the pivotal role that eco-friendly policies have in shaping health impacts. According to projections, adults aged 65 and up could see a 2.9 to 3.5-fold spike in heart-related deaths from extreme heat compared to those aged 20 to 64.

Additionally, non-Hispanic Black adults could face a 3.8 to 4.6 times higher increase in such deaths compared to non-Hispanic White adults, with the exact increase contingent on how rigorously green policies are implemented and followed.

It is crucial to note that the forecasts for heat-related fatalities didn’t show notable disparities among adults from other racial or ethnic backgrounds or between genders.

Dr. Sameed Khatana, the study’s principal investigator, underscored the growing influence of climate change on human well-being.

“Climate change and its many manifestations will play an increasingly important role in the health of communities around the world in the coming decades. Climate change is also a health equity issue as it will impact certain individuals and populations to a disproportionate degree and may exacerbate preexisting health disparities in the U.S.,” Dr. Khatana said.

“The magnitude of the percent increase was surprising. This increase accounts for not only the known association between cardiovascular deaths and extreme heat but it is also impacted by the population getting older and the proportionate increases in the number of people from other races and/or ethnicities in the U.S.”

According to Dr. Khatana, earlier research has indicated that Black communities may face several disadvantages when it comes to heat exposure, including less air conditioning access, fewer trees providing shade, and a heightened experience of the “urban heat island effect,” where developed areas see a more significant temperature rise compared to less developed surrounding regions.

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