Does warmer weather cause more cardiovascular issues in men?

With summer just around the corner (83 days and counting), most of us can’t wait for temperatures to rise. Although warmer weather can ease joint pain, boost our moods, and make exercising outdoors more inviting, a recent study in the British Medical Journal’s BMJOpen highlights that warmer weather could cause an increased health risk for men. 

But why? Well, warmer than usual summer nights have been shown to increase the number of cardiovascular deaths in men in their early 60s. 

Although there has been loads of research into a growing number of CVD-related deaths in summer, this is the first study to break data down by age. Interestingly, the research shows that women of the same age are not similarly affected.

How did the researchers come to this conclusion?

Over the last 15 years, scientists Floras and Majeed (from the University of Toronto) have been tracking the number of deaths caused by cardiovascular issues in June and July. Knowing that these are the months are when weather conditions are the warmest, the duo found that there were 39,912 CVD deaths recorded in England and Wales. 68.9% of these were men. 

The study shows that a 1℃ rise in temperature during summer nights saw a 3% increase in the number of CVD deaths among men aged 60 to 64. Older men and women categories are not affected in the same way.

The researchers didn’t stop at the UK, they also studied the effects of rising temperatures on men’s health in King County in Washington. Following the same variables, they concluded that in this region a 1℃ caused a 4.8% increase in male deaths under the age of 65.

How is the heart affected by rising temperatures?

Although it isn’t completely clear why men between the ages of 60 and 64 are at a higher risk of CVD deaths caused by higher temperatures, everyone’s body is affected by heat. 

When we get hot, we naturally try to cool down by forcing blood from the organs to directly underneath the skin - hence, we get flushed. This shift causes the heart to beat more quickly, which puts it under more stress. So, people living with cardiovascular health conditions are at higher risk of issues when it's hot because their hearts are already under stress. 

Why are men more at risk of cardiovascular disease? 

In the UK, 1 in 7 men and 1 in 11 women will die from disease of the heart arteries. Why is there this difference?

It is down to lots of things, but mostly lifestyle factors. Men tend to have more physically intense jobs, they tend to be more overweight, and often neglect their health. Therefore, the male population is more likely to miss symptoms such as breathlessness, chest pain, or numbness. 

What does global warming have to do with it? 

The study is causing worry in not only the healthcare arena but also the environmental sector too. 

This study (and loads of others) show that the health of the planet directly affects the health of humans. That's why it is so important that we continue to combat climate change.

If you need more support for your health, we have loads of great resources on our talkmenshealth hub.

Information contained in this Articles page has been written by talkhealth based on available medical evidence. The content however should never be considered a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek medical advice before changing your treatment routine. talkhealth does not endorse any specific products, brands or treatments.

Information written by the talkhealth team

Last revised: 30 March 2022
Next review: 30 March 2025