Study Finds Cardiovascular Deaths Linked to Extreme Heat to Increase in the US by 2036-2065
A recently funded study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) predicts a concerning rise in cardiovascular-related deaths due to extreme heat in the United States. The study, which analyzed data from 2008-2019 and utilized environmental modeling estimates, reveals that deaths caused by extreme heat are expected to surge between 2036 and 2065.
Currently, extreme heat only accounts for less than 1% of cardiovascular-related deaths. However, as the study’s modeling analysis suggests, this figure is set to change drastically in the coming decades. Specifically, the research estimates that there will be 71-80 days per summer with temperatures surpassing 90 degrees Fahrenheit by 2036-2065. This increase in scorching temperatures is predicted to result in a surge in annual heat-related cardiovascular deaths.
While this prediction is troubling, it is particularly alarming for two groups of people: older adults over the age of 65 and Black adults. The study highlights that these individuals will be disproportionately affected by the rise in heat-related deaths. The vulnerability of older adults and Black adults can be attributed to underlying medical conditions and socioeconomic barriers. These include the lack of access to air conditioning and living in heat-absorbing sectors known as “heat islands.”
The consequences of extreme heat are expected to further exacerbate existing health disparities. The study underscores the urgent need to address the impact of rising temperatures on public health, especially for marginalized communities. Major cities are already implementing various cooling measures, such as planting trees for shade and establishing cooling centers. However, further research is needed to fully comprehend the effectiveness of these initiatives in safeguarding the population.
The research findings emphasize that the impact of extreme heat may extend beyond the United States. Regions with warmer climates and significant health disparities should also anticipate similar repercussions. The study sheds light on the urgent need for global coordination and action to mitigate the health burdens associated with rising temperatures.
The study was partially supported by a grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), an entity that conducts research on heart, lung, and blood diseases, as well as sleep disorders, to improve public health. Notably, the NHLBI operates under the broader umbrella of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is the primary federal agency devoted to medical research, investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for various diseases.
As the threats posed by extreme heat continue to grow, it is crucial for policymakers, health professionals, and communities to collaborate in developing comprehensive strategies that prioritize public health and address the health disparities linked to rising temperatures. Through substantial efforts, the detrimental impact of extreme heat on cardiovascular health can be mitigated, protecting the well-being of individuals across the United States and beyond.
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