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Climate change-related disruptions linked to poorer cardiovascular health, researchers show

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Climate change-related disruptions linked to poorer cardiovascular health, researchers show

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Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide, responsible for approximately one in three deaths, with more than 20 million deaths reported in 2021 according to a 2024 World Heart Federation Report.

Improvements in the prevention, treatment and intervention of heart disease have led to substantial declines in cardiovascular disease deaths in recent decades, but climate change caused by the continued burning of fossil fuels could undermine this progress.

In the past century NASA confirms Earth’s average temperature has risen by more than two degrees Fahrenheit, leading to long-term shifts in average weather patterns, disruption of ecosystems and rising sea levels. Moreover, the ten warmest years on record all occurred in the past decade.

In a new study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) conducted a systematic review of 492 observational studies to determine whether there is a link between climate change-related environmental stressors and cardiovascular disease.

The researchers found that extreme temperatures and hurricanes are strongly associated with increased cardiovascular mortality and disease incidence, and that older adults, individuals from racial and ethnic minorities, and people from communities with lower wealth are disproportionately affected.

The findings appear in JAMA Cardiology.

“Climate change is already impacting our cardiovascular health; exposure to extreme heat can negatively affect heart rate and blood pressure; exposure to ozone or wildfire smog can cause systemic inflammation; experiencing a natural disaster can cause psychological problems; and hurricanes and floods can disrupt people’s health. the delivery of healthcare due to power outages and supply chain disruptions; and in the long term, the changing climate is expected to lead to a decline in agricultural productivity and the nutritional quality of the food supply, which could also compromise cardiovascular health,” said corresponding author Dhruv. S. Kazi, associate director of the Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Center for Outcomes Research at BIDMC.

“We know that these pathways have the potential to undermine the cardiovascular health of the population, but the magnitude of the impact, and which populations will be particularly susceptible, needs further investigation.”

Kazi and colleagues screened nearly 21,000 peer-reviewed studies published between 1970 and 2023 that evaluated associations between acute cardiovascular events, cardiovascular mortality, and health care utilization due to cardiovascular disease and climate change-related phenomena, including extreme temperatures; forest fires and resulting air pollution; ground level ozone; extreme weather events, including hurricanes, dust storms and droughts; sea ​​level rise; saltwater intrusion and climate-related migration.

Of the 492 global observational studies that met the team’s inclusion criteria, 182 examined extreme temperatures, 210 looked at the effects of ground-level ozone, 45 examined wildfire smoke, and 63 studied extreme weather events such as hurricanes, dust storms and droughts. The studies presented findings from 30 high-income countries, 17 middle-income countries and one low-income country.

The researchers found that exposure to extreme temperatures was strongly associated with increased incidence of cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular disease mortality, but the impact varied depending on temperature and duration of exposure.

Extreme weather events such as tropical storms, hurricanes/cyclones, floods and mudslides were also associated with increased cardiovascular risk, often lasting months, if not years, longer than the severe weather events.

Kazi and colleagues note that a study of Hurricane Sandy, which caused nearly $20 billion in damage in New York City alone in 2012, found that the risk of death from cardiovascular disease remained high for up to 12 months after the storm.

Some studies have found that exposure to wildfire smoke — which can affect populations hundreds of miles from the source — increases the risk of events like cardiac arrest, while others have found no such effect.

“Given the number of Americans now exposed to wildfire smoke each year – as was the case with wildfire smoke that struck New York City in Canada last summer – further studies to accurately quantify this risk are urgently needed Kazi said.

The researchers also identified gaps in knowledge regarding climate change-related impacts on cardiovascular risk in lower-income countries. Only one study was conducted in a low-income country and only five took place in Africa, where climate change is expected to have disproportionate impacts.

“Although data on outcomes in low-income countries are lacking, our study shows that several of the environmental stressors that are already increasing in frequency and intensity due to climate change are associated with increased cardiovascular risk,” said senior author Mary B. Rice. MD, MPH, a pulmonologist and critical care physician in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Sleep Medicine at BIDMC.

The authors note that these findings suggest that clinicians should consider evaluating each patient’s CVD risk from climate change exposure based on individual, community, and health care system characteristics.

Clinicians should also be aware of the cardiovascular risk associated with environmental exposures in their communities, whether related to extreme temperatures, wildfire smoke, or extreme weather conditions.

For example, in areas prone to hurricanes or flooding, physicians should help patients develop emergency plans to ensure uninterrupted access to medicine and health care when necessary. And healthcare systems must evaluate the resilience of their infrastructure to climate change.

Kazi added: “Climate change is already negatively impacting cardiovascular health in the US and globally. Urgent action is needed to reduce climate change-related cardiovascular risk, especially among our most vulnerable populations.”

More information:
Climate change and cardiovascular health, JAMA Cardiology (2024). DOI: 10.1001/jamacardio.2024.1321. jamanetwork.com/journals/jamac … jamacardio.2024.1321

Provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center


Quote: Climate change-related disruptions linked to poorer cardiovascular health, researchers show (2024, June 12), retrieved June 16, 2024 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2024-06-climate-disturbances-linked- worse-cardiovascular.html

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