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Global stroke deaths may be linked to climate change: Study reports

Global temperatures associated with climate change may result in a stroke leading to death and disability, a study found.

HQ Team

April 12, 2024: Global temperatures associated with climate change may result in strokes leading to death and disability, a study found.

Study author Quan Cheng, PhD, of Xiangya Hospital Central South University in Changsha, China said: “Dramatic temperature changes in recent years have affected human health and caused widespread concern.

“Our study found that these changing temperatures may increase the burden of stroke worldwide, especially in older populations and areas with more health care disparities.”

Researchers found that the majority of these strokes were due to lower-than-optimal temperatures, however they also found an increase in strokes tied to higher-than-optimal temperatures.

Increase in blood pressure

With lower temperatures, a person’s blood vessels can constrict, increasing blood pressure. 

High blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke. Higher temperatures may cause dehydration, affecting cholesterol levels and resulting in slower blood flow, factors that can also lead to stroke.

About 474,002 of the total deaths were linked to low temperatures. The rate of death from stroke from temperature changes for male participants was 7.7 per 100,000 compared to 5.9 per 100,000 for female participants.

30 years of health records

Central Asia had the highest death rate for stroke linked to non-optimal temperatures — 18 per 100,000. North Macedonia had the highest death rate with 33 per 100,000.

The study does not prove that climate change causes stroke. It only shows an association, the researchers wrote in the American Academy of Neurology.

Researchers did not examine other risk factors like high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

The researchers looked at 30 years of health records for more than 200 countries and territories. They examined the number of stroke deaths and the burden of stroke-related disability due to non-optimal temperatures.

The data was divided to look at different regions, countries, territories, age groups and genders. In 2019, there were 521,031 stroke deaths linked to non-optimal temperatures. 

Fossil fuels

There were also 9.4 million disability-adjusted life years due to stroke linked to non-optimal temperatures.

Disability-adjusted life years are the number of years lost due to premature death and years lived with illness.

“Future research should aim to reduce this threat by finding effective health policies that address potential causes of climate change, such as the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and industrial processes,” Change said.

Hunan Youth Science and Technology Talent Project supported the study.

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