High summer temperatures led to thousands of heat-related deaths in Germany between 2018 and 2020, according to a study. For the first time since the start of the research period in 1992, there has been an excess of heat deaths in three consecutive years, write researchers from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the Federal Environment Agency (Uba) and the German Meteorological Service (DWD). on Friday in “Deutsches Ärzteblatt”.
High temperatures can, among other things, put a lot of strain on the cardiovascular system and worsen existing symptoms such as respiratory diseases. Because heat is rarely recognized as a direct cause of death, the study authors used statistical methods to analyze them.
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The effect was particularly strong four years ago, the second hottest summer since records were recorded in 1881. “In particular, 2018, with an estimated 8,700 heat-related deaths, is on a similar order of magnitude to the historic heatwaves of 1994 and 2003. .(about 10,000 deaths),” the researchers write.
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Historic heat of 2018
In 2018, there was an unusually long heat wave in Germany, and extremely high average weekly temperatures were also measured during this period. Researchers estimate 6,900 heat-related deaths in 2019 and 3,700 in 2020. For 2021, no significant increase in deaths from heat was determined.
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According to the study, the impact of high temperatures on mortality has decreased slightly overall since 1992. This indicates a certain adaptation to heat.
“It is possible, for example, to change individual behavior through increased awareness, such as wearing breathable clothing, drinking enough fluids or going to shaded or air-conditioned rooms.”
However, the years 2018 to 2020 show that “heat events continue to pose a serious threat to people’s health in Germany”. Coping with heat waves in Germany must be significantly improved, and vulnerable population groups must be adequately protected. (dpa)