Powered by

Home Environment Stories

Warmer nights can increase heart attacks and deaths in humans: Report

The northern hemisphere currently suffers six times more heat waves than in the eighties and in places where temperatures exceed 45 degrees

By Wahid Bhat
New Update
Warmer nights can increase heart attacks and deaths in humans: Report

The northern hemisphere currently suffers six times more heat waves than in the eighties and in places where temperatures exceed 45 degrees, temperatures can remain at 40 degrees at night, which is more dangerous to health than daytime temperatures, according to a specialist from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

“Nighttime temperatures are particularly dangerous for human health because the body is unable to recover from the permanent heat, leading to an increase in heart attacks and deaths,” said the organization's extreme heat expert, John Nairn.

The WMO, the scientific arm of the United Nations, has accepted as official a new continental temperature record for Europe, recorded on August 1, 2022, in Sicily (Italy): 48.8 degrees Celsius.

Warmer nights impact

The body faces a significant burden due to high overnight temperatures, which increases the chances of heat-related illnesses and fatalities. The surge in extreme heat has been witnessed not only in the U.S. but worldwide, with June and the first week of July experiencing record-breaking temperatures.

The escalating global temperatures resulting from fossil fuel emissions and an El Niño event further intensify the situation, attributing the escalation of heat waves.

Heat waves are among the most deadly climate threats (Warmer nights impact). Photo Credit: PEXELS

Extended periods of extreme heat present a significant public health risk, as heat stands as the top weather-related cause of death in the U.S., surpassing hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods combined. Dehydration, a common consequence of heat exposure, thickens the blood and forces the heart to work harder, potentially leading to organ damage.

While attention often focuses on triple-digit high daily temperatures, the lack of cooling during the night when temperatures only drop into the 80s and 90s can be equally concerning. This poses a particular threat to individuals without access to air-conditioning, such as unhoused populations.

Moreover, heat disproportionately affects vulnerable groups, including young, older people, and those with preexisting health conditions like asthma and heart disease.

Worryingly, overnight lows in the U.S. are rising at twice the rate of daytime highs, with a Climate Central analysis reporting an average increase of 2.5 degrees F in overnight lows since 1970.

In Phoenix, the situation is even more severe, with overnight lows rising by 5.7 degrees F during the same period. This has resulted in a record-breaking overnight low of 97 degrees F in Phoenix, displacing the previous record set in 2003. The acceleration of climate change continues to make summers increasingly hotter, posing further challenges to public health.

Heat waves

According to researchers, heat waves are among the deadliest climate threats, and it has been estimated that last summer they caused an additional 60,000 deaths in Europe alone.

"And that figure is believed to be conservative," Nairn stressed, reflecting on the fact that this is occurring in the region with one of the most advanced climate early warning systems. "We can imagine what the figures might be in the rest of the world."

Elevated night temperatures are more dangerous to health than daytime temperatures (Warmer nights impact). Photo Credit: PEXELS

Scientists are certain that the El Niño phenomenon will amplify the frequency and intensity of extreme heat episodes.

The WMO expert indicated that the global temperature is now higher than that recorded during the El Niño phenomenon in the eighties.

Impact of El Niño

Regarding the impact of El Niño in Europe, Nairn explained that people typically feel it more distinctly throughout the Mediterranean basin. Expect changes that include the earlier and earlier arrival of heatwaves, particularly during spring in the northern hemisphere.

Seven southern European countries will issue extreme heat warnings for the next few days, and meteorologists expect temperatures to remain high in August.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) data recorded last year's excess mortality caused by successive heatwaves primarily in Spain, Italy, Greece, and Portugal in Europe. “The majority of deaths related to this situation do not occur from heart attacks, but from the impact on people with pre-existing diseases.

Extreme heat can worsen cardiovascular and respiratory problems, the humanitarian organization's head of health emergencies, Panu Saaristo, declared at the same press conference.

The National Weather Service's office in Flagstaff, Arizona, responded to the agency's Phoenix office on Twitter, highlighting the extraordinary nature of the recent record. They expressed disbelief, stating, "Let me get this straight, our all-time high temperature is equivalent to your all-time warm low temperature?” the tweet read. “That’s just nasty.”

Keep Reading

You can connect with Ground Report on FacebookTwitterKoo AppInstagram, and Whatsapp and Subscribe to our YouTube channel. For suggestions and writeups mail us at [email protected]