A new study warns of a significantly increased risk of stroke in hot weather at night. Particular caution applies to older people and women.

The Helmholtz Center Munich warns of the health risks caused by the increase in tropical nights due to climate change. A study in cooperation with the Augsburg University Hospital shows an increase in cases of seven percent. The researchers recommend adjustments in urban planning and healthcare.

The research team led by Dr. Alexandra Schneider, head of the Environmental Risks working group at the Helmholtz Center, has intensively studied the effects of tropical nights on the risk of stroke. In the analysis, they found a seven percent increase in strokes on tropical nights.

According to Schneider, nighttime temperatures are rising significantly faster than daytime temperatures due to climate change, which poses a significant health risk. The study defines the warmest five percent of nights in the study area as tropical. For this study, the threshold is 14.6 degrees average temperature.

The study used 15 years of data on around 11,000 strokes from the neurology department at Augsburg University Hospital. Dr. Cheng He, the first author of the study, points out that older people and women are particularly at risk. After hot nights, clinics usually diagnose strokes with mild symptoms.

The research team was also able to determine that the risk of a stroke associated with high nighttime temperatures increased significantly in the period from 2013 to 2020 compared to the period 2006 to 2012. While two additional strokes were recorded annually as a result of hot nights in the first measurement period, there were already 33 additional cases annually in the second period.

The researchers are now planning to make their results practically usable. To do this, they are developing recommendations for public adaptation strategies and urban planning, for example to reduce the intensity of urban heat islands. The aim is to better protect the population from the effects of nighttime heat.

At the same time, the healthcare system must develop preventative measures against predictable factors that promote stroke. Only if the clinics expect an increase in cases could they take the necessary steps to care for the patients.

Another research report from November 2023 warns of the increase in strokes for a different reason. Due to the increasing aging of the population, researchers predict that the number of cases will increase by 50 percent by 2050. A lack of awareness of risk factors is also suspected of driving up the number of cases. Overall, researchers expect deaths to increase by half, to almost 10 million annual deaths, by 2050.

Another study with 25,000 participants examined stress as a risk factor for strokes and also came to clear results here. The researchers found a clear connection with the risk of stroke, with work-related stress having a greater impact than stress at home.

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