A New Analysis Warns that People’s Heart Health is Being Harmed by Climate Change Worldwide

Researchers published their findings in the journal JAMA Cardiology on June 12th. They found that heart disease and heart-related mortality are more likely to occur in areas with extreme temperatures, hurricanes, and other hazardous meteorological conditions.

“Climate change is already adversely affecting cardiovascular health in the U.S. and worldwide,” according to researcher Dhruv Kazi, associate director of the Center for Outcomes Research at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “Climate change is already adversely affecting cardiovascular health in the U.S. and worldwide,”

According to studies, the average global temperature has risen by more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century. Rising sea levels, long-term changes in weather patterns, and ecosystem disruption have resulted from this.

Researchers found that the last ten years have seen the hottest ten years on record.

Researchers analyzed information from about 500 earlier investigations done between 1970 and 2023 for this review.

All of the research examined the relationships between weather-related factors and heart health, such as high temperatures, smoke from wildfires, ozone depletion, saltwater intrusion, hurricanes, dust storms, and droughts.

They discovered that the poor, elderly adults, and members of minority groups are disproportionately impacted by climate change in terms of their heart health.

Additionally, they discovered that the risk to heart health that extreme weather events pose can persist for months or even years after the initial threat.

For instance, researchers found that the risk of dying from heart disease persisted for up to a year following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which inflicted damage estimated to be worth close to $20 billion alone in New York City.

In addition, certain occurrences, such as wildfires, might put individuals hundreds of kilometers away from the site at large risk. Studies have shown that exposure to wildfire smoke raises the risk of cardiac arrest and other heart-related issues.

“More studies to accurately quantify this risk are urgently needed, given how many Americans are now exposed to wildfire smoke each year—as was the case last summer when wildfire smoke from Canadian fires affected New York city,” Kazi stated in a Beth Israel news release.

Kazi listed the following effects of climate change on heart health:

  • Severe heat raises blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Smoke from wildfires can cause systemic inflammation.
  • Natural catastrophes lead to psychological discomfort
  • Floods and hurricanes might cause problems for people’s health care.

“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, need further study,” Kazi stated.

Researchers noted that further study is required to evaluate the impact of climate change to heart health in developing countries, where people may already be at a higher risk.

Senior researcher Dr. Mary Rice, a pulmonary and critical care physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said, “Our study shows that several of the environmental stressors that are already increasing in frequency and intensity with climate change are linked with increased cardiovascular risk, though data on outcomes on low-income countries are lacking.”

According to Kazi, patients can also safeguard their heart health by making advance plans and limiting their exposure to factors like intense heat and smoke from wildfires.

For instance, Kazi suggested that patients create backup plans to ensure they always have access to the prescription drugs they need in the case of a hurricane or flood.