As the Earth slowly warms and weather patterns start to go non-linear, the side-effects for human health aren't always what you'd expect. In coming years, hospitals need to brace themselves for a spike in hospital visits due to respiratory problems, especially during summer. This finding comes out of a new study by a European task force called PHEWE devoted to researching the acute health problems associated with global warming.
According to a release on the study:
"This is in part due to differences in exposure, the large variability among the cities analyzed, the differences in adaptive capacity and the vulnerability of populations due to their socio-demographic characteristics, as well as differences in the preventive measures in place," said [city of Rome epidemiologist] Paola Michelozzi. "Moreover, across European countries there is wide variation in healthcare and hospital admissions availability. Although all these differences are important, our results document an effect of high temperature on hospital admissions for respiratory causes in several cities, and this is the strength of the study."
"These findings are important for public health because the prevalence of chronic diseases, such as COPD, is expected to increase in developed countries as a result of population aging," wrote Dr. Michelozzi. "Furthermore, under climate change scenarios, the increase in extreme weather events and certain air pollutants, especially ozone, are likely to further aggravate chronic respiratory diseases. Public health interventions should be directed at preventing this additional burden of disease during the summer season. The observed heterogeneity of the health effects indicates a need to tailor programs for individual cities."