California: Climate change-induced global warming may increase the burden of inpatient mortality from respiratory disorders throughout the warm season. This is the major finding of a study published in The Lancet Regional Health – Europe by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), a centre financed by the “la Caixa” Foundation. The findings could aid healthcare facilities in adapting to climate change. Between 2006 and 2019, the researchers looked at the relationship between ambient temperature and in-hospital mortality from respiratory disorders in the provinces of Madrid and Barcelona.
The number of hospital admissions (including those resulting in death) was higher in the cold season and lower in the summer season in both sites, with a peak in January and a low in August. In contrast to increasing hospital admissions during the winter season, the highest rate of inpatient mortality occurred during the summer and was closely associated with high temperatures.
The researchers used data on daily hospital admissions, weather (temperature and relative humidity), and air pollutants (O3, PM2,5, PM10, and NO2) to calculate the relationship between ambient temperature and hospital mortality. Although it is well known that daily exposure to heat and cold is associated with an increased risk of hospitalisation for a variety of respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and asthma, no study has focused on the proportion of hospital admissions that result in death, and thus the more severe cases.
The heat effect was instantaneous, with the majority of the damage occurring during the first three days of high-temperature exposure. Hicham Achebak, first author of the study and researcher at Inserm and ISGlobal, who holds a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship from the European Commission on acute bronchitis and bronchiolitis, pneumonia and respiratory failure, said,
This suggests that the increase in acute respiratory outcomes during heat is more related to the aggravation of chronic and infectious respiratory diseases than to the spread of new respiratory infections, which usually take several days to cause symptoms.
Neither relative humidity nor air pollutants played a statistically significant role in the association of heat with mortality in patients admitted for respiratory disease. The research also showed that women were more vulnerable to heat than men. Joan Ballester, ISGlobal researcher and last author of the study said,
This is most likely due to specific physiological differences in thermoregulation. Women have a higher temperature threshold above which sweating mechanisms are activated, and a lower sweat output than men, which results in less evaporative heat loss, and therefore greater susceptibility to the effects of heat.
The study shows that high temperatures contributed to an increase in the risk of fatal hospital admissions, especially in Barcelona, whereas low temperatures were not associated with this variable. According to the research team, this might have to do with the fact that health services are increasingly prepared to deal with winter peaks in respiratory diseases.
In this sense, the findings have important implications for health adaptation policies to climate change, and for projections of the impact of climate change on human health. Hicham Achebak. said,
Unless effective adaptation measures are taken in hospital facilities, climate warming could exacerbate the burden of inpatient mortality from respiratory diseases during the warm season.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – theLGBTQ population,indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the currentCOVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water,SanitationandHygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fightmalnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health,adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues likeair pollution,waste management,plastic ban,manual scavengingand sanitation workers andmenstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India wheretoiletsare used andopen defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched byPrime Minister Narendra Modiin 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.