Climate change and cardiovascular disease

A study published in the Nature reviews Cardiology relates the problems inherent in the climate crisis on our health

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Climate change and cardiovascular disease

Climate change and cardiovascular disease: implications for global health, is a study published in the Nature reviews Cardiology, which relates the problems inherent in the climate crisis on our health. Cardiovascular problems are the focus of the study.

The researchers explain: "Climate change is the greatest existential challenge to planetary and human health and is dictated by a shift in the Earth's weather and air conditions owing to anthropogenic activity. Climate change has resulted not only in extreme temperatures, but also in an increase in the frequency of droughts, wildfires, dust storms, coastal flooding, storm surges and hurricanes, as well as multiple compound and cascading events.

The interactions between climate change and health outcomes are diverse and complex and include several exposure pathways that might promote the development of non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease. A collaborative approach is needed to solve this climate crisis, whereby medical professionals, scientific researchers, public health officials and policymakers should work together to mitigate and limit the consequences of global warming.

In this Review, we aim to provide an overview of the consequences of climate change on cardiovascular health, which result from direct exposure pathways, such as shifts in ambient temperature, air pollution, forest fires, desert (dust and sand) storms and extreme weather events.

We also describe the populations that are most susceptible to the health effects caused by climate change and propose potential mitigation strategies, with an emphasis on collaboration at the scientific, governmental and policy levels."

The climate crisis

Compared to pre-industrial levels, the average temperature of the planet has increased by 0.98°C and the trend observed since 2000 leads us to predict that, in the absence of action, it could reach +1.5°C between 2030 and 2050.

The impact of global warming is already evident: Arctic sea ice has decreased by an average of 12.85% per decade, while coastal tidal records show an average rise in sea level of 3.3 millimeters per year since 1870 The decade 2009-2019 was the warmest on record, and 2020 was the second-warmest year on record, just below the maximum set in 2016.

Fire seasons have gotten longer and more intense, as in Australia in 2019, from 1990 to today, extreme weather events have increased every year, such as cyclones and floods, which also strike at atypical times of the year compared to the past and are increasingly devastating.

El Niño have become more erratic and have caused dangerous droughts in areas already threatened by chronic aridity, such as East Africa, while the Gulf Stream is slowing and could change course. Plant and animal species move unpredictably from one ecosystem to another, creating incalculable damage to biodiversity around the world.