climate change

Mortality rates from heatwaves in England highest since records began

Sunrise pictured in London in between the two heatwaves. Photo credit: Reuters / Toby Melville.

By Anders Lorenzen

Data has shown, that the mortality rates in England from the severe and unprecedented series of heatwaves impacting the UK this summer are the highest since records began in 2004.

This summer’s heat waves in the country also saw temperatures reach all-time highs. 

During the UK’s summer heatwaves, England recorded an excess of 2,083 deaths (excluding deaths from COVID-19) among those aged 65 and over.  The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) stated that the most likely cause was complications arising from the extreme heat.

UKHSA said that during the first heatwave, 17th – 20th July, around 1,000 excess deaths of those over 65 were recorded, while during the more prolonged heatwave, 8th – 17th August, an estimated 1,458 excess deaths were recorded.

Deadly high temperatures

UKSHA’s Chief Scientific Officer Isabel Oliver said: “These estimates show clearly that high temperatures can lead to premature death for those who are vulnerable. Prolonged periods of hot weather are a particular risk for elderly people, those with heart and lung conditions, or people who are unable to keep themselves cool such as people with learning disabilities and Alzheimer’s disease.”

The climate-fueled heatwaves and record-high temperatures resulted in fires across large grassland areas, severe property damage and increased pressure on transport infrastructure, and now added to that list the worst climate impact of all, loss of human life.

The high temperatures in the UK peaked at just over 40 degrees C, recorded in eastern England on the 19th of July. Scientists say the heatwaves were made 10 times more likely because of climate change.

Excess deaths are used by statisticians to describe the number of fatalities in excess of normally observed numbers for a particular time of the year.

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