Posts Tagged ‘Global warming and heart disease’


Reuters reports that a study suggests “more babies could be born with heart defects in the future as global warming puts pregnant women at greater risk of exposure to dangerously high temperatures.”   Currently, “congenital heart defects affect about 40,000 births per year.” The research was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

From the authors of the study:   “The burden of congenital heart defects (CHD) across the United States may increase as a result of climate change.” 

“As global temperatures continue to rise, more intense, frequent, and longer‐lasting heat events are expected.12 Significant gaps remain in understanding the potential impact of climate change on maternal heat exposures and the associated CHD burden.”

“In conclusion, our findings reveal a potential nationwide increase in future maternal heat exposure in the United States.”


Dr. Dianne Atkins, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, cautions that “the data from the study is preliminary and is based only on estimates.”

“We cannot be certain that heat exposure will increase the risk of congenital heart disease, but it would be prudent for women to avoid becoming overheated during the early weeks of pregnancy,” Atkins, who was not involved in the study, told Reuters Health by email.


The author of this paper, not an MD, is a Professor of Public Health at the University of Albany, and he concluded by saying, “Although this study is preliminary, it would be prudent for women in the early weeks of pregnancy to avoid heat extremes similar to the advice given to persons with cardiovascular and pulmonary disease during heat spells.”

Blogfinger medical commentary:   Paul Goldfinger, MD, FACC

This “research” is mostly speculation, not science.  The American Heart Association published this study in their Journal of the American Heart Association.  Nothing here is certain including the projections due to global warming. I’m surprised they accepted this paper without an editorial explaining their decision. 

A medical journal like this one should be a holy temple of medical science and not a place to camouflage speculation and political correctness as health science.  This paper belongs in a journal of public health or environmental science where torturing statistics and speculation might be more at home.

There is no doubt that excessively high temperatures should be avoided by pregnant women, but the same is true for patients with heart disease, lung disease, and any  elderly person.  As for global warming, that topic should have been barely mentioned and not emphasized.

The AHA should keep its focus on clinical medicine and what can be done to help physicians keep our people safe through evidence based research.

Allowing political correctness to creep into their work is a mistake and will erode the confidence of physicians and patients.


CRAIG OGDEN   “Cavatina”   from the Deer Hunter



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