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This Weather Pattern Is Now Linked to Higher Stroke Risk

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As the hotter days of summer approach, it is possible that your risk of stroke could rise with the temperature, a recent study has found.

When hot weather carries over into the nighttime hours, the heat is related to a significant increase in the risk of stroke, according to researchers at the German federal research institution Helmholtz Munich and the Augsburg University Hospital.

In particular, so-called “tropical nights” are associated with a higher risk of stroke.

To define these types of evenings, researchers used the so-called Hot Night Excess Index, which measures the extent to which temperatures exceed a given threshold value at night. That translated to the warmest 5% of nights during the study.

As part of the study, the researchers looked at data related to 11,000 strokes over a period of 15 years. They found that the extreme heat of tropical nights increased the risk of stroke by 7%.

Women and people over age 60 were particularly at risk, and it was primarily strokes with mild symptoms that were diagnosed at clinics after such nights.

In a summary of the findings, lead study author Dr. Cheng He says:

“Our results make it clear that adjustments in urban planning and the healthcare system are extremely important to reduce the risks posed by rising night-time temperatures.”

The researchers say their findings are particularly important given that climate change is causing a much faster rise in nighttime temperatures than daytime temperatures.

The researchers found that the risk of stroke due to tropical nights increased significantly in the period of 2013 to 2020 compared with the period of 2006 to 2012.

During the earlier period, tropical nights caused two additional strokes per year in the area covered by the study. During the latter period, that number jumped to 33 per year.

To address the problem, the researchers recommend that urban planners take steps to try to reduce the intensity of urban heat islands. They also suggest that hospitals plan for more stroke patients when the weather forecast is for a hot night.

The study was published in the European Heart Journal, a medical journal of the European Society of Cardiology.

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