Extreme heat is predicted to increase cardiovascular deaths

news release

Monday, October 30, 2023

The NIH-funded study predicts that older adults and black adults will suffer the most.

Heat-related cardiovascular deaths are expected to increase in the United States between 2036 and 2065, according to a study supported by the National Institutes of Health.Researchers whose research results have been published in Circulationpredicting that adults age 65 and older and Black adults are likely to be disproportionately affected.

Extreme heat currently causes less than 1% of cardiovascular-related deaths, but modeling analyzes predict that the number of summer days with temperatures above 90 degrees will increase. We predicted that things would change. This heat index takes into account the perceived temperature and humidity and measures extreme temperatures. Older adults and Black adults are more vulnerable to health risks, including many with underlying health conditions, lack of air conditioning, and living in heat-absorbing and trapping areas known as “heat islands.” They face certain socio-economic barriers, which makes them the most vulnerable.

“The health burden of extreme heat will continue to increase in the coming decades,” said study author Sameed A. Katana, a cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. says the MD, MPH. “This is also a health equity issue, as heatwaves have an unequal impact on different populations, potentially exacerbating health disparities that already exist.”

To generate these projections, researchers evaluated county-level data from May to September from 2008 to 2019 for 48 contiguous states. Over 12 million deaths related to cardiovascular disease occurred during this time. Using environmental modeling estimates, they also found that the heat index rises to at least 90 degrees about 54 times each summer. Researchers linked the extreme temperatures that occur each summer to a national average of 1,651 cardiovascular disease deaths per year. Some regions, such as the South and Southwest, were more affected than others, such as the Northwest and Northeast.

The researchers used modeling analysis to predict environmental and population changes, looking from 2036 to 2065 and predicting that each summer there will be about 71 to 80 days of 90-degree heat or higher. estimated. Based on these changes, they predicted that the annual number of deaths from heat-related cardiovascular disease would increase by 2.6 times the general population, from 1,651 to 4,320. This estimate is based on minimizing emissions of greenhouse gases that trap the sun’s heat. If emissions increase significantly, the death toll could more than triple to 5,491.

This prediction was more pronounced for older adults and black adults. The number of deaths among people aged 65 and over could almost triple, rising from 1,340 to 3,842 if greenhouse gas emissions stabilize, and to 4,894 if they don’t. . The number of deaths among black adults could more than triple, from 325 to 1,512 or 2,063.

Researchers considered multiple factors when comparing current and future populations, including age, underlying health status, and place of residence.

Most people adapt to extreme heat because their bodies find ways to cool themselves, such as through sweating. However, people with underlying health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease may respond differently and may be at increased risk of heart attacks, irregular heartbeats, strokes, and more.

“While the number of heat-related cardiovascular events affects a small number of adults, extreme temperatures are important for those at potential risk,” said Senior Advisor Lawrence J. Fine, MD. “This study shows how important it is to take special measures to avoid this.” He is in the Division of Clinical Applications and Prevention in the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the NIH.

The authors described cooling approaches taken in some cities. These include planting trees to provide shade, adding cooling centers with air conditioning, and using heat-reflecting materials to pave roads and paint roofs. However, more research is needed to understand how these approaches impact people’s health.

“In addition to considering the effects of extreme temperatures in the United States, these types of modeling predictions also address the potential impacts of extreme heat around the world, particularly in regions with warmer climates and disproportionately affected by health disparities. “It also foreshadows certain impacts,” he said. Dr. Flora N. Katz, Director, Division of International Training Research, NIH Fogarty International Center.

This research was supported in part by NHLBI grant K23 HL153772.

For more information about NIH’s Climate Change and Health Initiative, visit https://www.nih.gov/climateandhealth.

About the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI): NHLBI is a world leader in conducting and supporting research in heart, lung, and blood diseases and sleep disorders that advances scientific knowledge, improves public health, and saves lives. For more information, please visit https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH):The nation’s medical research agency, NIH, has 27 institutes and centers and is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency that conducts and supports basic, clinical, and translational medical research, investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, please visit www.nih.gov.

NIH…Turning discovery into health®


Khatana SE, Eberly LA, Nathan AS, et al. The burden of excess cardiovascular mortality associated with extreme heat is projected to change by mid-century (2036-2065) in the contiguous United States. Circulation. 2023; doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.123.066017.


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