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Environ Health. 2017 Dec 5;16(Suppl 1):119. doi: 10.1186/s12940-017-0322-5.

The health effects of hotter summers and heat waves in the population of the United Kingdom: a review of the evidence.

Author information

1
Faculty of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, 15-17 Tavistock Place, London, WC1H 9SH, UK. Katherine.arbuthnott@lshtm.ac.uk.
2
Chemicals and Environmental Effects Department, Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, Public Health England, Chilton, Oxon, OX11 0RQ, UK. Katherine.arbuthnott@lshtm.ac.uk.
3
Faculty of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, 15-17 Tavistock Place, London, WC1H 9SH, UK.

Abstract

It is widely acknowledged that the climate is warming globally and within the UK. In this paper, studies which assess the direct impact of current increased temperatures and heat-waves on health and those which project future health impacts of heat under different climate change scenarios in the UK are reviewed.This review finds that all UK studies demonstrate an increase in heat-related mortality occurring at temperatures above threshold values, with respiratory deaths being more sensitive to heat than deaths from cardiovascular disease (although the burden from cardiovascular deaths is greater in absolute terms). The relationship between heat and other health outcomes such as hospital admissions, myocardial infarctions and birth outcomes is less consistent. We highlight the main populations who are vulnerable to heat. Within the UK, these are older populations, those with certain co-morbidities and those living in Greater London, the South East and Eastern regions.In all assessments of heat-related impacts using different climate change scenarios, deaths are expected to increase due to hotter temperatures, with some studies demonstrating that an increase in the elderly population will also amplify burdens. However, key gaps in knowledge are found in relation to how urbanisation and population adaptation to heat will affect health impacts, and in relation to current and future strategies for effective, sustainable and equitable adaptation to heat. These and other key gaps in knowledge, both in terms of research needs and knowledge required to make sound public- health policy, are discussed.

KEYWORDS:

Adaptation; Climate change; Heat; Heat-wave; Morbidity; Mortality; Summer; Temperature; United Kingdom

PMID:
29219088
PMCID:
PMC5773858
DOI:
10.1186/s12940-017-0322-5
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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