More than half a million stroke deaths a year are tied to extreme temperatures

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In 2019 alone, more than half a million people died due to a stroke linked to high and low temperatures, a new study found.
Men had more strokes related to extreme temperatures than women, but it affected people across all age groups.
“Nonoptimal temperatures” made a difference: The number of people who had a stroke due to hot and cold temperatures grew and was significantly larger in 2019 than in 1990.
While that may sound counterintuitive for global warming, cold temperatures also come along with climate change.
Right now, stroke deaths connected to extreme temperatures are disproportionately concentrated in parts of the world with with a higher levels of people living in poverty and where health care systems are fragile, like in Africa.
Last year was the warmest since scientists started recording global temperatures in 1850 and temperatures are expected to break more records in the near future.
The new study wasn’t designed to show why extreme temperatures that come with the climate crisis seem to be causing so many strokes.
Extreme cold temperatures also can lead someone to have a stroke.

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A new study found that over half a million people died from strokes related to high and low temperatures in just 2019. Climate change caused by humans is expected to cause the world to get warmer, thus that number will increase.

Globally, since 1990, there has been an increase in the number of strokes related to high and low temperatures, according to a study published on Wednesday in the medical journal Neurology. Severe temperatures were linked to more strokes in men than in women, though the condition affected people of all ages.

Temperatures and strokes in 204 nations and territories were examined for this study. Using global data on disease, deaths, and disability as well as climate data that includes temperature, cloud cover, and weather variables, researchers from China’s Xiangya Hospital Central South University developed a model.

Although the population has been growing and aging, the study’s authors pointed out that this does not fully explain the increase in stroke cases. The number of stroke victims attributed to hot and cold temperatures increased and was noticeably higher in 2019 compared to 1990. This indicates that “nonoptimal temperatures” do matter.

The greater number of strokes in 2019 was caused by the low temperatures. Cold weather is a side effect of climate change, despite the fact that it may seem contradictory to global warming. The polar vortex, which is the dense, cold air mass surrounding the poles, is hampered by warmer land temperatures, and this can result in lower temperatures.

At this time, the world’s highest rates of poverty and weak health care systems—such as those found in Africa—are associated with a disproportionate number of stroke deaths linked to extreme temperatures. The study stated that the high temperatures in Central Asia are causing a rapid rise in the incidence of strokes, which “also requires special attention.”. “.

According to the study, the burden of strokes caused by high temperatures “has increased rapidly” and will continue to grow “sharply” as the planet gets warmer.

We are already experiencing higher temperatures. The previous year was the hottest on record since 1850, when scientists began keeping track of global temperatures. More temperature records are predicted to be broken soon. It was the hottest March on record this year.

Dr. Not involved in the research, Harvard Medical School associate professor of medicine Mary Rice said the study’s conclusions are important.

According to Rice, a pulmonologist at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, “I really think that group did a very nice job of taking a global approach looking at historic data and to draw attention to a health issue that I think it’s not really getting a lot of attention.”. “The total number of people who have died from heat-related strokes is actually quite high. “.

An increasing number of immune-mediated illnesses, including allergies, asthma, autoimmune diseases, and cancers, are being caused by climate change, according to research that Rice recently published in Frontiers in Science. According to Rice’s research, multilevel mitigation strategies are desperately needed to address the climate crisis while lowering emissions and improving air quality.

She warned that the burden of disease would increase significantly if immediate global action is not taken.

“It’s occurring everywhere.”.

Stroke poses a serious threat to health already. According to past research, it ranks among the top causes of death and the third most common cause of disability globally.

The aim of the latest study was not to explain why the high temperatures associated with the climate crisis appear to be the primary cause of strokes. According to additional research, the body finds it challenging to regulate and cool itself through sweating in extremely hot temperatures. This may result in a blood condition known to medical professionals as hypercoagulable state, which makes blood clot more easily and raises the risk of stroke. Dehydration can also cause the heart to beat too hard, raising the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

A person may also have a stroke in extremely cold temperatures. The sympathetic nervous system, a web of nerves that regulates the body’s fight-or-flight response, is activated when the body is exposed to cold because it stimulates the skin’s cold receptors. This may result in vasoconstriction, or the narrowing of blood vessels in the skin, arms, and legs, which could raise blood pressure and possibly cause a stroke.

Dr. During his conversation about this phenomenon with stroke patients, Ali Saad, a neurologist associated with the University of Colorado’s Climate and Health Program, reminded them of the potential dangers of extreme temperatures, especially heat. In order to help them be aware of when the temperature will rise, he promised to take their phone and add weather alerts.

“I tell them that there are things we can do to prevent both stroke and worsening climate change, because I’m worried that you’re going to overheat,” Saad remarked.

Saad stated that while he was not involved in the new study, he hopes that it will draw attention from world leaders and have an impact on law.

The study adds that it’s the first to look at things globally. “The fact that extreme weather, or extreme temperatures more specifically, is a risk factor for stroke is known,” Saad said. People typically associate low- to middle-income nations with pollution and heat-related health outcomes, such as strokes, but these issues are present everywhere and are only expected to worsen. “.

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