With global temperatures continuing to rise, extreme heatwaves are becoming increasingly common and more lethal than ever before.
Now, scientists have warned that there are more than 27 different ways that a heatwave can kill you.
Among the most brutal ways listed are heart attacks, liver failure and brain damage, all as a result of exposure to extreme heat.
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The significance of deadly heat will depend on the sensitivity of the human body to heat. Pictured are the deadly heat pathways
During Lucifer this summer, emergency admissions to hospital in Italy increased by 15 per cent, WWA said.
Europe’s death toll from weather disasters, including heatwaves, wildfires and drought, could increase 50-fold by the end of the century, The Lancet Planetary Health journal said in August.
World temperatures hit a record high for the third year in a row in 2016, scientists said in January.
The intensity of heatwaves in Europe has also increased by 1-2°C since 1950, WWA said.
More than 35,000 people died during a European heatwave in 2003, and tens of thousands perished in Russia during extreme heat in 2010.
Research led by the University of Hawaii found extreme heatwaves pose considerable dangers to human lives.
‘Dying during a heatwave is like a terror movie with 27 bad endings to choose from,’ said lead author Dr Camilo Mora.
‘It is remarkable that humanity overall is taking such a complacency on the threats that ongoing climate change is posing.’
The researchers pinpointed five key mechanisms, with impacts seen on seven vital organs when our bodies are exposed to extreme heat.
Most of these mechanisms are triggered as our bodies redirect blood flow to the skin, with the purpose of cooling down.
This shunting of blood to the skin results in inadequate blood flow to other organs.
A cascade of effects from this lack of blood flow can lead to a range of nasty deaths, including brain damage, liver failure and heart attacks.
‘Clearly, reducing the dangers of a warming world will require us to outperform even our most optimistic projections of climate change mitigation yet,’ the authors wrote in the study, published in the American Heart Association journal.
In the paper, the authors comment that in the last decade, there has been a more than 2300 per cent increase in the loss of human life from heatwaves as a result of approximately less than 1°C warming.
This emphasises the heightened risk to human life even under the optimistic target of allowing the planet to warm up by another 1°C.
In a systematic view of medical literature, researchers identified five physiological mechanisms with impacts seen on seven vital organs and found there were at least 27 things that could go wrong with the human body during a heatwave
With global temperatures continuing to rise, extreme heatwaves are becoming increasingly common and more lethal than ever before. Now, scientists have warned that there are more than 27 different ways that a heatwave can kill you (stock image)
The researchers carried out a systematic review of medical research to come up with the list of 27 ways to die.
They highlight that the significance of this deadly heat will depend on the sensitivity of the human body to heat.
When the body is exposed to extreme heat, an area of the brain called the hypothalamus generates a reaction in which it redirects blood flow to the skin, with the purpose of cooling down.
This shunting of blood to the skin results in inadequate blood flow to other organs (a mechanism called Ischemia) which damages the chemical compounds that form them.
27 WAYS TO DIE
Researchers identified five physiological mechanisms with impacts seen on seven vital organs:
Inadequate blood supply
1) Lack of blood to brain leads to death of brain tissue
2) Lack of blood to heart leads to heart attack
3) Lack of blood to intestines leads to a hole in the wall of intestines, leading to death
4) Lack of blood to kidneys causes them to shut down
5) Lack of blood to liver causes it to shut down
6) Lack of blood to pancreas causes severe blood and fluid loss, leading to death
Rising body temperature becomes toxic to cells
7) Heat destroys cells in the brain, leading to death
8) Heat destroys cells in the heart, leading to death
9) Heat destroys cells in the intestines, leading to death
10) Heat destroys cells in the kidney, leading to death
11) Heat destroys cells in the liver, leading to death
12) Heat destroys cells in the lungs, leading to death
13) Inflammation of the brain leads to death
14) Inflammation of the heart leads to death
15) Inflammation of the intestines leads to death
16) Inflammation of the kidney leads to death
17) Inflammation of the liver leads to death
18) Inflammation of the lungs leads to death
19) Inflammation of the pancreas leads to death
Widespread formation of blood clots
20) Formation of blood clots in brain leads to stroke
21) Formation of blood clots in intestines leads to death
22) Formation of blood clots in kidneys leads to death
23) Formation of blood clots in liver leads to death
24) Formation of blood clots in lung leads to death
Muscle fibres die and are released into bloodstream
25) Muscle fibres die and leak myoglobin which is toxic to kidneys
26) Muscle fibres die and leak myoglobin which is toxic to liver
27) Muscle fibres die and leak myoglobin which is toxic to lungs
In turn, if body temperature surpasses the optimal temperature (because it is too hot), this will damage cells directly in a mechanism referred as heat cytotoxity.
Both are deadly conditions that can impact the functioning of the brain, heart, kidneys, liver, and perhaps more critically your guts.
While ischemia and heat cytotoxity can be lethal by themselves, the set of physiological responses to those two attacks pose an even greater risk of death.
They can also trigger the contents of the gut to be released into the blood stream which is called ‘Systemic inflammatory response.’
In this, the body triggers an inflammation that facilitates access of white blood cells to fight the infection.
However, the same inflammation that allows for white blood cells can also facilitate further leakage of the guts and other organs whose membranes have been broken.
During all the internal mess created by ischemia, heat cytotoxity and the systemic inflammatory response, proteins that control blood clogging become overactive.
When the body is exposed to extreme heat, an area of the brain called the hypothalamus (pictured in orange) generates a reaction that redirects blood flow to the skin. This shunting of blood results in inadequate blood flow to other organs (a mechanism called Ischemia) which damages the chemical compounds that form them
This causes clots that can cut off blood supply to the brain, kidneys, liver and lungs; a mechanism called Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation.
In turn, depletion of clotting proteins can lead to potentially fatal hemorrhaging even without injury.
The final mechanism occurs when ischemia and heat cytotoxity, compounded by activity, such as working outdoors, cause the breaking of skeletal muscle cells resulting in the leakage of myoglobin, which is toxic to the kidneys, liver and lungs.
The study further suggests that all heat damaging mechanisms can be triggered any time heat conditions are experienced, suggesting that anyone is at risk.