Extreme heat causing greater health problems among German seniors
Clean Energy Wire
Rising temperatures in Germany due to climate change are having a direct impact on the health of people, particularly the elderly, according to a new report on climate and health by German health care provider AOK’s WIdO research institute. Citing data from the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), the WIdO notes that 25 percent of people over the age of 65 have an “above-average” risk of developing health problems on hot days and having to go to hospital as a result. On days with temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius, hospital admissions rose 3 percent in the 65-and-over age group due to the heat. “If global warming continues unchecked, the number of heat-related hospital admissions could increase sixfold by the year 2100,” the WIdO states, adding that the results “highlight the importance of taking action against climate change”.
The country’s population must be better informed about the risks of climate change in order to better protect itself, the report stresses. According to the results of a Germany-wide survey by the WIdO, a third of the population expressed the need for information, while more than half worry about their own health because of the increasing heat waves.
During periods when temperatures in Germany rose above 30 degrees between 2008 and 2018, there was an average of 40 heat-related hospital admissions per million seniors in addition to the normal daily average of 1,350 admissions. That corresponds to 3 percent of all hospital admissions in this age group on particularly hot days. The MCC’s findings are based on billing data for all hospital admissions of AOK-insured patients over 65 years of age between 2008 and 2018. The report finds that there is clear potential for individual behavioural adaptation to the risks posed by climate change, namely heat, UV radiation, exposure to air pollutants and pollen count.