Wednesday, October 4, 2023

    62,000 deaths in record-breaking summer in Europe, the number of elderly and women is high

    madrid According to a study, nearly 62,000 people died from heatstroke last year in Europe during its hottest period. It is heartbreaking proof that heat is a silent killer and its victims are few and far between. The study, published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine, found that 61,672 people died of heat-related illnesses in Europe between May 30 and September 4 last year.

    Italy was the worst-hit country with nearly 18,000 deaths, followed by Spain with more than 11,000 and Germany with nearly 8,000. The researchers also found that extreme heat disproportionately harmed the elderly and women. Of the nearly 62,000 deaths analyzed, heat-related deaths were 63% higher among women than among men. Age was also an important factor, with a significant increase in the death rate for people aged 65 and over.

    “It’s a huge number,” Joanne Ballester, an epidemiologist at ISGlobal and lead author of the study, told CNN. Eurostat, Europe’s statistical office, attempted to measure the number of deaths from heat waves last year. But Ballester, who lives in Spain, which battled last year’s heat wave, said the study released Monday is the first to analyze how many deaths last summer were specifically caused by the heat.

    The researchers analyzed temperature and mortality data from 35 European countries between 2015 and 2022 – representing a total population of 540 million people – and used it to develop an epidemiological model to calculate heat-related deaths. “For me, I’m an epidemiologist, so I know what to expect and (the death toll) is not surprising, but for the general public it will be very surprising,” he said.

    This is not the first time Europe has faced such extreme heat. Almost 20 years ago, in the summer of 2003, an unprecedented heat wave caused more than 70,000 deaths. Scientists involved in the study said heat waves are an ‘extremely rare event’. Researchers say the 2003 heat wave was a wake-up call. “This shows a lack of preparedness to prevent mass casualties from heat in Europe at the time, and highlights the fragile nature of the region’s health systems, especially when extreme weather conditions occur,” Ballester said. Borders become more frequent and intense.’

    Tags: Germany, Italy, spain, summer

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