Cardiovascular-related deaths due to extreme heat are expected to increase between 2036 and 2065 in the United States, according to a study supported by the National Institutes of Health. The researchers, whose work is published in Circulation, predict that adults ages 65 and older and Black adults will likely be disproportionately affected.
While extreme heat currently accounts for less than 1% of cardiovascular-related deaths, the modeling analysis predicted this will change because of a projected rise in summer days that feel at least 90 degrees. For the general population, the number of excess cardiovascular deaths due to projected changes in extreme heat is expected to double – rising from 1,651 to 4,320 or 5,491 – each summer season. Among adults ages 65 and older, these numbers are expected to triple, increasing from 1,340 to 3,842 or 4,894. For Black adults, the number of excess cardiovascular-related deaths are predicted to more than triple, increasing from 325 to 1,512 or 2,063.
“The health burdens from extreme heat will continue to grow within the next several decades,” said Sameed A. Khatana, M.D., M.P.H., a study author, cardiologist, and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. “Due to the unequal impact of extreme heat on different populations, this is also a matter of health equity and could exacerbate health disparities that already exist.”