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Europe records over 61,000 heat-related deaths in 2022

SPAIN: Record-breaking temperatures in Europe last summer are said to have led to more than 61,000 premature deaths.

The figures were revealed in a study led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) in collaboration with the French National Institute of Health (Inserm).

The study estimates 61,672 heat-attributable deaths between 30 May and 4 September 2022.

In absolute terms, the country with the highest number of heat-attributable deaths over the entire summer of 2022 was Italy, with a total of 18,010 deaths, followed by Spain (11,324) and Germany (8,173).

Ordered by heat-related mortality rate, the top country is Italy, with 295 deaths per million, followed by Greece (280), Spain (237) and Portugal (211). The European average was estimated at 114 deaths per million.

An analysis by age and sex, showed a very marked increase in mortality in the older age groups, and especially in women. It is estimated that there were 4,822 deaths among those under 65, 9,226 deaths among those between 65 and 79, and 36,848 deaths among those over 79.

The data also revealed that heat-attributable mortality was 63% higher in women than in men, with a total of 35,406 premature deaths (145 deaths per million), compared to an estimated 21,667 deaths in men (93 deaths per million). 

To date, the highest summer mortality in Europe was registered in 2003, when over 70,000 excess deaths were recorded.

“The temperatures recorded in the summer of 2022 cannot be considered exceptional, in the sense that they could have been predicted by following the temperature series of previous years, and that they show that warming has accelerated over the last decade,” commented Joan Ballester Claramunt, first author of the study and researcher at ISGlobal.

“The fact that more than 61,600 people in Europe died of heat stress in the summer of 2022, even though, unlike in 2003, many countries already had active prevention plans in place, suggests that the adaptation strategies currently available may still be insufficient,” said Hicham Achebak, researcher at Inserm and ISGlobal and last author of the study.

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