More than 3,000 people killed in this year’s record-breaking heatwaves

New figures reveal how the extreme temperatures this summer contributed to fatalities, as an excess of more than 3,000 people died.

The joint analysis by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released today found an excess of 3,271 people died across the five ‘heat periods.’

This is 6.2% above the five-year average, with the most deaths occurring during the second heat period from July 10th-25th when 2,227 more people than usual died.

July 19th saw a record-breaking 40.3°C recorded at Coningsby in Lincolnshire, marking the first-time temperatures reached 40°C in the UK.

The government said these figures demonstrate how hot weather can have a devastating affect on the elderly and at-risk groups.

silhouette of city buildings during sunset

Isabel Oliver, Chief Scientific Officer at UKHSA, said: ‘These estimates show clearly that high temperatures can lead to premature death for those who are vulnerable. Higher excess deaths occurred during the hottest days this year and a warming climate means we must adapt to living safely with hotter summers in the future.

‘Prolonged periods of hot weather are a particular risk for elderly people, those with heart and lung conditions or people who are unable to keep themselves cool such as people with learning disabilities and Alzheimer’s disease.’

Heat-periods were recorded on June 16-19th, July 10-25th, July 30 – August 5th, August 8-17th and August 23-25th.

Data showed a notable fall in deaths shortly after each heat-period peak, suggesting the deaths of vulnerable and terminally ill people were ‘brought forward’ by such temperatures.

Those suffering from cardiac arrhythmias were the worst affected, with deaths caused by this disease jumping by 17.4%, possibly due to hot weather worsening symptoms for those with heart and respiratory conditions.

Deaths among those with Parkinson’s disease and diabetes also rose across the periods of warm weather, increasing by 15.1% and 12.9% respectively.

Areas across the country also suffered wildfires during the heatwaves and there were reports of people dying after swimming in open water too.

Experts have warned more frequent and extreme heatwaves caused by the climate crisis will increasingly affect people’s health, most notably among the very young, elderly and most vulnerable.

Photo by Timo Volz


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