The annual number of heat-related deaths in the United Kingdom could increase by up to 257% by 2050, from the current annual figure of 2,000 deaths. Elderly people over 85 years of age will be at the highest risk due to their increasing number and hot temperatures. Concerns about heat-related deaths have been raised in a study published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
A team of researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Public Health England have analyzed the fluctuation of weather patterns and death rates in the UK between 1993 and 2006. This information was used to determine the link between temperature and mortality by age group and region.
The study said that using predicted daily average temperatures from the British Atmospheric Data Center (BADC) for the years 2000-09, 2020-29, 2050-59 and 2080-89, and population growth estimates for these periods from the Office of National Statistics, the researchers have estimated the number of deaths to be caused by hot and cold temperatures.
The number of annual deaths related to cold temperatures is estimated to decrease 2% by 2050, from the current annual figure of 41,000 deaths. The researchers say that the death rate increases by 2.1% for every 1°C increase in temperature that is above the UK heat threshold, while a 2% increase in death rate is seen for every 1°C drop in temperature below the cold threshold. The number of cold days in the UK are expected to decrease by the midddle of 2080, while the number of hot days are predicted to triple by this time.