Heat and cold continue to be the leading causes of external mortality on the planet. However, exactly how temperature-related mortality changes with global warming is still not fully understood. A new study published in Nature Medicine makes a significant contribution to the study of this problem.
According to the World Health Organization, 9.43% of all deaths worldwide are due to temperature fluctuations. This means that about 5.08 million people die each year due to adverse weather conditions. Of these, 4.59 million are from cold and 0.49 million are from heat. It is interesting to note that colder regions lose fewer people to cold than hotter regions. This is due to higher adaptation to cold in high latitudes and better physiological adaptation to heat in low latitudes.
For example, in Africa, for every one person dying from heat, 46 die from cold. This indicates a high degree of adaptation of the local population to heat. In Europe, on the other hand, the ratio is 2.7 heat deaths for every one cold death. Obviously, even within a single region, the point of minimum mortality can change over time, which makes it difficult to predict the impact of global warming on temperature mortality.
To investigate these trends, scientists conducted a study of temperature mortality in Europe in the summer of 2022. Thirty-five countries were included, including regions such as Cyprus. Traditional methods of analysis were used, including comparing mortality for the study period with data from other years and taking into account the impact of Covid-19. The results showed that heat-related mortality during this period was significantly higher than average.
A total of 61,672 people in 35 European countries died of heat-related deaths in the summer of 2022, 25,500 more than the typical heat-related mortality rate for the period. These figures suggest that the public is not sufficiently aware of the risks of temperature-related deaths. Over 95% of such deaths look like a heart attack or stroke, and are often written off as stress. However, it is important to realize that sub-optimal temperature is one of the major stressors affecting the cardiovascular system.
The study emphasizes the importance of educating the public about the risks of temperature-related mortality and the need for action. It is important to remember that climate change may lead to further increases in heat-related mortality, so measures should be taken to adapt to changing weather conditions.