Climate Change and the New Normal for Cardiorespiratory Disease
Climate change is already affecting the cardiorespiratory health of populations around the world, and these impacts are expected to increase. The present overview serves as a primer for respirologists who are concerned about how these profound environmental changes may affect their patients. The authors consider recent peer-reviewed literature with a focus on climate interactions with air pollution. They do not discuss in detail cardiorespiratory health effects for which the potential link to climate change is poorly understood. For example, pneumonia and influenza, which affect >500 million people per year, are not addressed, although clear seasonal variation suggests climate-related effects. Additionally, large global health impacts in low-resource countries, including migration precipitated by environmental change, are omitted. The major cardiorespiratory health impacts addressed are due to heat, air pollution and wildfires, shifts in allergens and infectious diseases along with respiratory impacts from flooding. Personal and societal choices about carbon use and fossil energy infrastructure should be informed by their impacts on health, and respirologists can play an important role in this discussion.