The incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is rising globally, and new research is finding potential risk factors for this condition. A recent study published in the BMJ Open found that warmer than usual summer nights may lead to increased cardiovascular deaths in men in their early 60s.
Previous research has only focused on the potential danger of warm spells in the summer that involve extreme heat or long periods of high temperatures. But so far, findings have been inconsistent. Hence, researchers from the University of Toronto, Canada, set out to find any possible link between high summer temperatures at night and increased cardiovascular disease. They focused on death in people aged 60 to 69 years old.
For the study, researchers used data from the Office for National Statistics on adult deaths for June and July every year between 2001 and 2015. They chose England and Wales because heatwaves in the UK are most frequent and intense during these months. Corresponding information from official US data for King County, Washington, a similar sea-facing region with parallel latitude to England and Wales, was also analyzed.
Researchers found that between 2001 and 2015, there were 39,912 cardiovascular disease deaths recorded in England and Wales and 488 deaths in King County. After allowing for certain variables, in England, a 1°C was associated with a 3.1% increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease mortality among men aged 60 to 64.
However, these results were not found in older men or women in any age group. In King County, a 1°C was associated with a 4.8% increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease mortality.
Over the 15 year period observed, cardiovascular disease rates have declined in both regions annually, notably over the summer months. However, a considerable risk still persists, and in England and Wales, cardiovascular event rates remain more than 50% higher in adults aged 65 to 69 compared to those aged 60 to 64 years.
Researchers concluded, “The present findings should stimulate similar investigation of exposure and event rates in other populous mid-latitude to high-latitude regions. Considering the growing likelihood of extreme summers in western US and UK, our results invite preventive population health initiatives and novel urban policies aimed at reducing future risk of CVD events.”
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