The Lancet: rising temperatures exacerbate dementia and increase risk of stroke

May 20, 2024  17:45

Researchers from University College London have found that when the temperature and humidity rise, there is a high risk of exacerbating conditions such as stroke, migraine, meningitis, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia, as well as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. The results of the study are published in The Lancet Neurology.

The study of British scientists is based on the results of previously published scientific papers on the impact of undesirable climate change on human health (meta-analysis). The researchers summarised that people are generally comfortable with temperatures between 20° C and 26° C and humidity between 20% and 80%. Approaching natural conditions at the upper and lower limits of these ranges (or going beyond them) negatively affects brain function and health.

Some medications used to treat neurological and mental health disorders (as well as the diseases themselves) can interfere with the sweating necessary to keep cool when needed. For this reason, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and schizophrenia can be exacerbated by extreme heat.

Normally, high temperatures lead to fluid loss with sweat, which in turn contributes to blood clotting and increases the risk of thrombosis. Thrombosis is one of the leading causes of stroke. Heat can also trigger migraine attacks and worsen the course of meningitis due to negative effects on the cardiovascular system.

A meta-analysis also showed that hospitalisations for people with dementia increase as the temperature rises. Multiple sclerosis sufferers also experience more severe symptoms of the disease.

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