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Fewer deaths due to high temperatures
In recent years, there have been repeated reports that global warming is contributing to increased illnesses and deaths. Using the example of Spain, however, researchers found that so-called temperature-related mortality has decreased in the past four decades.
The latest study by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) found that actual temperature-related mortality in Spain has decreased over the past four decades. The results of the study were published in the English language journal "The Lancet Planetary Health".
Are more people dying of the consequences of the heat in Europe?
Global warming has caused it to become noticeably warmer in many countries around the world in recent years. But are the rising temperatures causing more and more people to die from the effects of the heat? To answer this question, the researchers examined the vulnerability of the Spanish population to hot and cold temperatures in the context of global warming. For this purpose, temperatures and deaths related to cardiovascular diseases were analyzed, which were registered in 48 Spanish provinces between 1980 and 2016. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Spain and there is clear evidence of a link between temperature and mortality from cardiovascular disease.
Temperature-related cardiovascular death rates decreased by 17 percent per decade
The results show that the temperature-related death rate in cardiovascular disease was 38.2 percent lower between 2002 and 2016 compared to the period between 1980 and 1994. An analysis of the data over 15-year periods showed that the temperature-related cardiovascular mortality decreased at a rate of more than 17 percent per decade. In particular, heat-related cardiovascular mortality in the period from 2002 to 2016 was more than 42 percent lower in men and more than 36 percent in women than in 1980 to 1994. Cold-related mortality was 30 percent lower in women and low in men 45 percent lower.
Are women more susceptible to heat?
Some remarkable gender differences were noted: heat-related mortality was much higher in women, while men were more prone to cold temperatures. In older people, the risk of death due to high temperatures was significantly increased in both sexes.
Temperature rise in the past four decades
In their investigation, the researchers found that the average temperature has increased by almost 1 ° C in the past four decades. The trend is towards fewer days with moderate or extreme cold and more days with high temperatures. In addition, the Spanish population has become accustomed to both cold and warmth. The number of deaths at a certain temperature is lower today than four decades ago, report the authors of the study. The observed adjustment appears to be due to socio-economic development and structural improvements, including improvements in housing conditions and health systems.
Adaptability to rising temperatures could end
The Spanish population has shown considerable adaptability to rising temperatures. However, as this was not necessarily the result of a strategy to mitigate the effects of climate change, it is possible that this adaptation reaction is limited and cannot be sustained at higher temperatures due to accelerating global warming, the researchers warn. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Hicham Achebak, Daniel Devolder, Joan Ballester: Trends in temperature-related age-specific and sex-specific mortality from cardiovascular diseases in Spain: a national time-series analysis; The Lancet Planetary Health (query: 24.06.2019), thelancet.com