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The climate crisis threatens health: the heart of a cardiologist’s heart

I am a cardiologist who has been working with seriously ill patients for 30 years. It is urgent for me to treat this problem and really prevent it. The climate crisis should be overcome along with exercise prevention, optimal blood pressure control, diabetes prevention and smoking cessation.

Climate emergency is a public health problem. It is essential to include it now in prevention for us and for our future generations.

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Since March 2020, we have all been hypnotized and paralyzed by COVID-19. Our alertness to our planet Earth has decreased significantly. We hardly talk about a problem that is a climate emergency. However, this problem does exist and is still growing. Every effort is needed to mitigate this threat. And health and heart hazards. Global warming is threatening several already vulnerable patients, weakened by poor genetics and / or poor lifestyles.

silent killer

Even before we were hit hard by climate change in Quebec, heart failure was on the rise due to the aging population. By 2021, the cost of heart failure was more than double the cost of all cancers combined. It is the most expensive condition for our healthcare.

More and more scientific press releases, published and reviewed by colleagues, are clear: heat waves and poor air quality increase the risk of developing and / or worsening the current heart condition. Today, global warming is a silent killer. When will we want to hear it?

Global warming contributes significantly to urban pollution. The microparticles in suspension caused by this contamination have a very detrimental effect on our arterial system and our hearts. These microparticles have been increasing significantly for years and are the subject of numerous symposia and scientific publications.

There is no debate or questioning on this topic. It is unanimous: these particles are toxic to patients with heart disease. If we add high blood pressure and diabetes, almost half of the population over the age of 65 would suffer from heart disease.

Also, the increase in microparticles in the air during the smog period is clearly related to heart attacks, sudden deaths and hospitalizations in patients with chronic heart and respiratory diseases. This situation makes our cities less and less habitable and is a cause of growing psychosocial stress.

As a cardiologist, I see that our clinics are full of cardiac patients, anxious in everyday life and with a significantly reduced quality of life. Now, at the largest international congresses, climate and health meetings are part of all programs. How is it that the climate is not on the health agenda of our governments? Are we up to it?

Why am I going to march with my mothers in front on May 8?

Even though I am a childless man, I want future generations to be proud of us. I want us as a society to overcome ourselves. It is often too late to prevent the devastating effects of a bad environment combined with many risk factors. Our healthcare system can barely stay afloat. We need to alert people to this problem, move forward and campaign for a global approach to health, including the environment!

That is why I am inviting my sisters and brothers in health care to join me and the mothers at the front on May 8 in the streets of Quebec and ask our governments to listen to science and act.

Everything is possible together!

Michel White MD, Cardiologist, Montreal Heart Institute, Full Professor of Medicine, University of Montreal