Extremely high temperatures may triple the risk of heart-related deaths, according to research published in the Circulation Journal Report.
Researchers at the American Heart Association examined the relationship between temperature and more than 15,000 cardiovascular-related deaths in Kuwait.
Kuwait is one of the hottest climates on the planet, and in June 2019, the country experienced the highest temperature ever recorded on earth at 53 degrees Celcius.
The researchers compared the number of cardiovascular deaths on days with the lowest average daily temperatures compared to days when temperatures were hotter than usual.
They found that when temperatures were higher than 42 degrees celsius, there was a three times greater risk of dying from cardiovascular causes. Men were more affected by the extreme temperatures, experiencing a 3.5 times higher death rate.
The researchers explained that when core body temperature increases, the human body tries to cool itself by shifting blood from the organs to underneath the skin. This causes the heart to pump more blood, putting it under more stress.
With climate change making extreme weather events more common, the researchers have said that the number of deaths by cardiovascular causes is likely to increase.
Barrak Alahmad, lead author of the study said: ‘While cardiologists and other medical doctors have rightly focused on traditional risk factors, such as diet, blood pressure and tobacco use, climate change may exacerbate the burden of cardiovascular mortality, especially in very hot regions of the world.
‘The warming of our planet is not evenly distributed. Regions that are inherently hot, like Kuwait, are witnessing soaring temperatures unlike ever before.
‘We are sounding the alarm that populations in this part of the world could be at higher risk of dying from cardiovascular causes due to heat.
‘Although we cannot conclude it from this analysis, we need to explore this relationship further and consider serious preventive strategies that could reduce the impact of rising temperatures on our health.’
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