New Study Reveals Elderly Adults and Black Individuals Most at Risk for Cardiovascular Death Due to Extreme Heat
A new study published in the journal Circulation has shed light on the alarming impact of extreme heat on cardiovascular health in the United States. The research highlights that elderly adults and black individuals are the most vulnerable to cardiovascular death caused by excessive heat.
The study projects a grim future if current greenhouse gas reduction policies are not implemented successfully. The research indicates that cardiovascular deaths from extreme heat could rise by 233% within the next 13-47 years. However, even if greenhouse gas reduction policies are in place, there could still be a substantial increase of 162% in cardiovascular deaths by the middle of the century.
The study also reveals the disproportionate impact of extreme heat on elderly individuals and non-Hispanic black adults, regardless of the implementation of greenhouse gas reduction policies. Factors such as limited access to air conditioning, lack of tree cover, and the “urban heat island effect” in certain neighborhoods contribute to this disparity.
Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the research emphasizes the urgent need to address climate change and its implications for public health. It also highlights the necessity for equitable responses to protect vulnerable populations. The study underscores the importance of implementing more aggressive policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent a significant increase in cardiovascular deaths caused by extreme heat in the United States.
The researchers suggest that infrastructure interventions, such as increasing tree cover in neighborhoods, may help mitigate the effects of extreme heat. However, further research is needed to determine the effectiveness of such measures in the U.S. Another aspect that exacerbates the health effects of extreme heat is air pollution, specifically fine particulate matter, which poses additional threats to public wellbeing.
It is important to note that the projections presented in the study may be conservative, as they only focus on cardiovascular deaths. Nonfatal events such as heart attacks and strokes, which are also likely to be linked to extreme heat, were not taken into account.
The findings of this study raise critical questions about the future impact of extreme heat on cardiovascular health. They highlight the immediate need for action, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and implementing measures to protect vulnerable populations. Guam, like many other regions, must take these findings seriously and prioritize the health and well-being of its elderly and black residents.