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In our ongoing efforts to live sustainably and healthily, the weather might not always be at the forefront of our minds. But recent findings suggest it should be, especially when it teams up with Pollution.

It’s not just a random hot day that has researchers concerned. It’s the combination of extreme heat and high levels of Pollution. A study from the American Heart Association has found that these factors are more than just uncomfortable – they’re deadly.

Source: WGN News/YouTube

Heat: Nature’s Silent Killer

Heat isn’t a mere inconvenience. It’s the top weather-related killer, with approximately half of heat-related deaths being attributed to heart attacks. Let’s put that into perspective. On days of intense heat, a car can overheat and stop running. Dr. Shad Marvasti, a health insider at ABC15, compares this to the human body. He states, “If you think about the impact heat has on your car, and when it’s overworked, if you’ve ever had a radiator on your car overheating… that’s what’s happening to your body.” When the body’s natural “radiator” is overstrained due to underlying factors such as narrowed arteries, it requires extra effort to compensate.

By The Numbers: The Scary Statistics

The American Heart Association’s study, which examined 200,000 heart attack deaths, found a disturbing trend when correlating temperatures and Pollution levels:

  • An 18% increased risk during two-day heat waves with temperatures ranging from 82-97º.
  • A whopping 74% increased risk during four-day heat waves with temperatures soaring between 94-109º.

Most alarmingly, the risk doubled on the hottest days when paired with elevated Pollution levels — a scenario that’s all too common in places like the Valley.

Cold Cities Aren’t Off the Hook

While we’ve focused on the perils of heat and pollution, it’s worth noting that colder cities aren’t entirely safe either. The same study identified an augmented heart attack risk in colder cities with high Pollution. However, this risk wasn’t as pronounced as in their hotter counterparts.

Preventing the Preventable

So, what can we do to protect ourselves? Dr. Shad offers some advice. On top of hydrating regularly and limiting outdoor time during weather alerts, he recommends being proactive about our health. Monitoring factors like blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and maintaining a healthy weight can be game-changers.

In periods of air quality alerts, limiting outdoor time becomes crucial. Some health risks aren’t obvious, and poor air quality can exacerbate latent conditions. Dr. Shad even suggests wearing high-quality masks during these times to filter out particulates. This is especially vital during wildfires, where particulate levels skyrocket.

A Sustainable Call to Action

Understanding the risks posed by heat and pollution is the first step towards a more sustainable and safe future. By being proactive and taking preventative measures, we can protect our health and the health of our planet. As advocates of sustainability and well-being, let’s commit to understanding our individual risks, supporting policies that combat Pollution, and continuing our journey toward a greener, healthier future. Together, we can make a difference.

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