PHILADELPHIA, PA – Cardiovascular fatalities in the U.S. due to soaring temperatures are set to escalate between 2036 and 2065, warns a National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded study.
Currently, less than 1% of heart-related deaths are attributed to extreme heat. However, an increase in days feeling over 90 degrees in the coming decades is expected to change this scenario drastically.
Published in Circulation, the study foresees older adults and Black Americans bearing the brunt of the heatwave effects. Many from these groups grapple with health and socio-economic challenges, such as the absence of air conditioning and residing in heat-absorbing areas, known as “heat islands.”
“The health burdens from extreme heat will continue to grow within the next several decades,” emphasizes Dr. Sameed A. Khatana from the University of Pennsylvania. “Due to the unequal impact of extreme heat on different populations, this is also a matter of health equity and could exacerbate health disparities that already exist.”
Research using data from 2008–2019 linked extreme summer temperatures to an average of 1,651 annual cardiovascular deaths. Forecasts for 2036–2065 show this number possibly soaring to between 4,320 and 5,491, depending on greenhouse gas emissions.
Efforts to mitigate these effects include city adaptations like tree plantings for shade and using heat-reflective materials. However, experts stress the urgent need for more studies on the effectiveness of these interventions.
For more information, visit the NIH’s Climate Change and Health Initiative at https://www.nih.gov/climateandhealth.