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Climate change could worsen brain diseases, study says

To the climate changes could negatively affect the health of people with brain diseases in the future, according to a new study published in The Lancet Neurology this Wednesday (15). In the article, researchers from London's Global University (UCL) state that the impacts on neurological diseases can be “substantial” and emphasize the need to understand these consequences for patients’ lives.

The conclusion was made after reviewing 332 articles published around the world between 1968 and 2023. They considered 19 conditions related to the nervous system, chosen based on the study Global Burden of Disease 2016. These include diseases such as stroke, migraines, Alzheimer's, meningitis, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. The team also looked at the impact of climate change on several serious psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety, depression and schizophrenia.

“There is clear evidence of the impact of climate on some brain diseases, especially strokes and nervous system infections,” says Professor Sanjay M. Sisodiya, director of genomics at the Epilepsy Society and founding member of Epilepsy Climate Changein a press release.

“Climatic variation shown to have an effect on brain disease included temperature extremes (low and high) and greater temperature variation throughout the day – especially when these measurements were seasonally unusual,” he explains. “Nighttime temperatures can be particularly important, as higher temperatures at night can disrupt sleep. Poor sleep is known to worsen a range of brain problems.”

People with Alzheimer's are at greater risk

The team says that people with dementia are more susceptible to damage caused by extreme temperatures and to being victims of climate events (such as floods or forest fires), as cognitive impairment can limit the ability to adapt behavior to environmental changes.

“Reduced risk awareness is combined with a reduced ability to seek help or mitigate potential harm, such as drinking more in hot weather or adjusting clothing,” explain the researchers.

“This susceptibility is worsened by frailty, multimorbidity and psychotropic medications. Consequently, greater temperature variation, hotter days and heat waves lead to an increase in hospital admissions and mortality associated with dementia”, they add.

Hospital admissions and risk of death are associated with high temperatures

The researchers also found that there was an increase in hospitalizations, disabilities or mortality due to stroke related to higher temperatures or heat waves. This has also been observed for mental health disorders, particularly in relation to daily temperature fluctuations.

The study authors also noted that, as adverse climate events increase in severity — such as floods and forest fires — populations are being exposed to worsening environmental factors that bring health risks that were not anticipated in the past. previous studies.

As a result, researchers argue that it is important to ensure that this research is updated, considering not only the current state of climate change, but also the future.

“This work is taking place in a context of worrying worsening climate conditions and will have to remain agile and dynamic if it is to generate information that is useful for both individuals and organizations”, says Sisodiya. “Furthermore, there are few studies that estimate the health consequences of brain diseases under future climate scenarios, which makes future planning challenging.”

Climate anxiety also increases risks

A climate anxiety or “ecoanxiety”, can also enhance psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and depression itself.

“The entire concept of climate anxiety is an additional and potentially burdensome influence: many brain diseases are associated with an increased risk of psychiatric disorders, including anxiety, and such multimorbidities may further complicate the impacts of climate change and the adaptations needed to preserve health. . But there are actions we can and should take now,” says Sisodiya.

Ecoanxiety is a term used to designate “chronic fear of environmental catastrophe “, according to the definition of the American Psychological Association. It began to be used in the ecopsychology literature in the 1990s, but has gained greater prominence with climate change and recent adverse environmental events.

Climate change could cause 500,000 stroke deaths annually

Source: CNN Brasil

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