Do we need climate cardiology as a new medical specialism?

Healthcare professionals have suggested introducing a new field of expertise focused on links between cardiovascular health and the environment.  

Experts writing in the journal BMJ Global Health have proposed a new medical specialism should be created which will simultaneously offer patients greater protection from pollution and other human-caused climate issues, and better safeguards for the future of the planet itself. 

Dubbed ‘climate cardiology’, the idea is to explore and improve understandings of the clear links between problems like greenhouse gases – now at their highest levels in at least 800 years – and the rising temperatures they cause, with the coming half decade expected to feature the hottest year ever recorded, and thermometers likely to reach 1.5C above pre-industrial levels in the same period. 

As these conditions continue, and in many cases worsen, doctors and scientists have pointed to the fact that public health, including cardiovascular, will be increasingly impacted. This includes through the direct consequences of declining food production and nutritional quality of crops, extreme weather events and natural disasters, diseases and pandemics, and the collapse of ecosystems. In turn, this will place increasing pressure on healthcare systems.

Statistically, the article points to the 93,000 cardiovascular deaths linked to high temperatures in 2019 alone, alongside stress and trauma-increased risk of heart attacks among survivors of floods, hurricanes, and other catastrophes. Desertification, rising levels of atmospheric CO2, ocean warming and acidification are also making food less healthy, with poor diets now tied to 3m annual cardiovascular deaths worldwide, and a further 1m resulting from fossil fuel burning and industrial emissions. 

The transition to net zero is therefore considered to be essential in order to reduce health risks as lowering emissions will improve many climactic conditions. Sadly, though, progress on this has been slow, with half of UK councils concerned they will fail to meet new targets on carbon. Meanwhile, Westminster policymakers are currently examining the role of the financial sector in the transition, with think tanks pointing to the fact net zero investment can also have a positive impact on levelling up.

Image credit: Tanya Pro



Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top