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Extreme heat may worsen consumers' cardiovascular health, study finds

Experts predict that rising global temperatures will make extreme weather patterns more common

Woman fanning herself in extreme heat
Photo (c) Dmitry Marchenko EyeEm - Getty Images
A new study explored how extreme heat may have a significant impact on consumers’ heart health. Experts explained that heatwaves, especially as they occur more often due to global warming, are likely to increase the risk for cardiovascular concerns. 

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently reported that global temperatures are rising at a greater rate than previously projected, and that the number of extreme heat days will significantly increase across most land regions,” said researcher Daniel Gagnon, Ph.D. “Although we don’t yet fully understand the reasons, people with cardiovascular disease are at greater risk of hospitalizations and death during extreme heat events.” 

Rising temperatures affect heart health

To better understand how extreme temperatures can impact consumers’ long-term heart health,  the researchers analyzed several earlier studies that evaluated the same topic.

Ultimately, the researchers learned that persistent exposure to high temperatures puts additional stress on consumers’ cardiovascular systems. The study showed that there was a higher mortality risk due to heart failure, heart disease, stroke, and blood clots. Those health concerns were even greater for those with existing heart conditions.

To help lower the risk of long-term health concerns, the researchers encourage consumers to focus on staying properly hydrated and keeping cool when the weather gets warm. While not all consumers have access to air conditioning at home, some ways to stay cool include soaking feet in cool water, getting an electric fan, and wetting the skin with cold compresses. 

“Cardiovascular health professionals need to be aware of the negative consequences of extreme heat on cardiovascular health,” said Dr. Gagnon. “A better awareness and understanding of the cardiovascular consequences of extreme heat, and of the measures to take to prevent and mitigate adverse events, will help us all assess the risk and optimize the care of patients exposed to an increasingly warm climate.” 

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