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Heat linked to 200,000 cases of kidney disease in Brazil

Up until recently, high blood pressure and diabetes have been known as the two main causes of kidney disease. However, new research from the Monash University Planetary Health Department has revealed that temperature change is also a massive contributor to kidney disease, presenting yet another indirect consequence of rising global temperatures.

The study, which was led by Professor Yuming Guo and Dr. Shanshan Li, quantified the risk and attributable burden of ambient temperature for hospitalizations of renal diseases. The researchers focused on data gathered from 1,816 Brazilian cities, and found that 7.4 percent of all kidney disease hospitalizations could be attributed to temperature increases.

The data was gathered between 2000 and 2015. Overall, the analysis showed that a total of 202,000 kidney disease cases were linked to temperature change. The results were presented at the COP26 conference in Glasgow, representing an example of the detrimental indirect effects that climate change is having on the world.

The research followed up on the findings of a landmark research article written in 2017 for The Lancet, which suggested that 2.6 million deaths were attributable to impaired kidney function. This was an increase of 26.6 percent compared to the previous decade, indicating a correlation with rising global temperatures.

According to Professor Guo, every 1°C increase in daily mean temperatures directly correlates with around one percent increase in kidney disease. This statistic was calculated based on a total of 2,726,886 renal disease hospitalizations, and showed that women, the 80+ age group, and children under the age of four were affected the most.

While associations between renal disease and temperature were highest on days of extreme heat, the effects remained for up to two days post-exposure. The experts noted that the research “provides robust evidence that more policies should be developed to prevent heat-related hospitalizations and mitigate climate change.”

As a result of the findings, the study authors are advising governments to urgently incorporate interventions into their policies on climate change. They are also emphasizing that interventions should be focused on targeting particularly vulnerable individuals such as females, children, and the elderly.

“Moreover, attention should be paid to low- and middle-income countries like Brazil, where reliable heat warning systems and preventive measures are still in need,” added Professor Guo.

The study has been published in the journal The Lancet Regional Health.

By Calum Vaughan, Staff Writer

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