These figures illustrate, once again, how extreme heat has become a true «disease triggers» which, in the most serious cases, cause the premature death of thousands of people. According to this latest analysis, led by the ISGlobal institute, last year between July 11 and August 14, in just one month high temperatures caused a total of 38,881 deaths in around 35 countries across Europe. Is about one of the highest figures ever recorded for this reason (and a phenomenon that, as experts point out, could mark a future where these climatic extremes will be discovered in something increasingly recurrent).

«The situation experienced last year revealed the lack of prevention plans and the fragility of health systems»

Joan Ballester Claramunt

The situation experienced last year»revealed the lack of prevention plans and the fragility of health systems to deal with weather-related emergencies», explains Joan Ballester Claramunt, ISGlobal researcher and first author of the study. «The fact that in the summer of 2022 more than 61,600 people died from heat in Europe (despite the fact that many countries already have prevention plans) suggests that the adaptation strategies that we currently have may be insufficient«adds, along the same lines, Hicham Achebak, an expert at Inserm and ISGlobal.

The Mediterranean, ground zero

According to this latest study, although extreme heat invaded the entire European continent throughout the summer, the mediterranean area is the one who suffered most devastating effects. The country where extreme heat caused the most deaths was Italy, where high temperatures caused 18,010 deaths. Spain stands out as the second most affected, with 11,324 deaths, and Germany as the third, with 8,173 more. Experts also weigh in on the case of countries like Greece and Portugalwhere proportionally some of the highest figures in all of Europe in terms of deaths per million inhabitants were also recorded.

The Spanish cities with the most deaths from extreme heat were Madrid and Barcelona

In Spain as a whole, according to the analysis of the figures collected between May 30 and September 4, deaths related to extreme heat were observed in practically all the areas studied. The ciCities that registered the most deaths due to high summer temperatures were Madrid (with 1,374 deaths attributable to high temperatures), Barcelona (with 1,327) and Valencia (679). He is also concerned about the case of the Zamora, Ourense and Cáceres provinces, where the highest mortality rates per million inhabitants have been recorded.

Women the most affected

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The groups most affected by extreme heat They are older people and, especially, women. According to the analysis published this Monday, during the heat waves of last summer there were 4,822 deaths among people under 65 years of age, 9,226 deaths in the group of people between 65 and 79 years of age and 36,848 among those over 79 years of age as a whole. of Europe. These figures confirm, once again, the vulnerability of the elderly to climate extremes. Especially in the case of people who live alone and in vulnerable situations, who often cannot afford to keep their home at an adequate temperature and end up exposed to even more extreme temperatures.

Another of the groups most affected by extreme heat are women. Especially in the case of those over 80 years of age. «The data suggest that heat-attributable premature mortality over the past summer was 63% higher in women than in menwith a total of 35,406 premature deaths of women in the whole of Europe», concludes the investigation. In the case of Spain, between May and September 7.190 deaths of women linked to high temperatures and 4,250 men for the same cause.