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Cooling needed to counter future heat waves

20681099_sGERMANY: An enhanced use of air conditioning could be needed to counter future heat-related deaths, a German government report claims.

Based on forecasted temperature increases due to global warming, the report predicts that the  number of deaths due to coronary heart disease (or ischemic heart disease (IHD)) attributable to heat waves in Germany could increase five-fold by the end of this century.

The report – Climate Change Effects on Heat Waves and Future Heat Wave-Associated IHD Mortality in Germany  compiled by the German Meteorological Service and the Federal Environment Agency, recognises that heat is a well-known weather-related health hazard and has been associated with increases in both mortality and morbidity.

Excess mortality during Europe’s hot summer of 2003 was estimated to be about 50,000.

Coronary heart disease is responsible for around 17% of all deaths in Germany. Between 2001 and 2010, it killed an average of 403 people on every summer day where temperatures were normal. This is said to have increased by 15.2% during heatwaves, adding up to 331 excess deaths every year.

The report forecasts that coronary heart disease deaths due to excessive heat is projected to be 494 deaths per year in 2021–2050 and 835 deaths per year in 2069–2098

It observes that the implementation of heat health warning systems and heat wave action plans is known  to decrease the heat wave impact on mortality. “Furthermore,” it says, “other public adaptation strategies, an enhanced use of air conditioning, and individual behavioural adaptation could help to reduce the future number of heat wave-attributed deaths.”

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