Latest research has identified that people who are frequently exposed to warmer climates are more likely to develop heart problems, particularly those with former cardiovascular complications.
Rising temperatures have been found to prompt early signs of heart disease and chronic illness, with some people even dying as result of extreme heatwaves, the study reports.
In 2003, a European heatwave killed 70,000 people, while the 2010 Russian heatwave caused 55,000 deaths, international data shows.
Lead author Dr Daniel Gagnon said: “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently reported that global temperatures are rising at a greater rate than previously projected, and that the number of extreme heat days will significantly increase across most land regions.
“Although we don’t yet fully understand the reasons, people with cardiovascular disease are at greater risk of hospitalisations and death during extreme heat events.”
A team of academics found a link between warmer climates and heart complications by analysing earlier epidemiological research studies.
Additionally, they discovered that death and strokes can be caused when regularly exposed to severe heatwaves.
Dr Gagon commented: “Although the effects of extreme heat on adverse cardiovascular events have been explained in the context of heatstroke, many events occur without heatstroke, and the mechanisms of these events in the absence of heatstroke remain unclear.
“It is likely that heat exposure increases myocardial oxygen needs.”
According to the scientists, rising temperatures place too much pressure on the heart, escalating the risk of blood clots developing.
Staying dehydrated and the use of air-conditioning are two ways people can prevent the occurrence of cardiovascular disease when exposed to hot climates, experts say.
“Air conditioning is the most effective strategy that can be recommended since it effectively removes the heat stimulus and minimises the risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes; however, less than one third of global households own air conditioning,” said Dr Gagnon.
He added: “Cardiovascular health professionals need to be aware of the negative consequences of extreme heat on cardiovascular health.
“A better awareness and understanding of the cardiovascular consequences of extreme heat, and of the measures to take to prevent and mitigate adverse events, will help us all assess the risk and optimise the care of patients exposed to an increasingly warm climate.”
The full set of results can now be accessed in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.