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Heat wave in Europe causes deaths from overheating and damage to vital organs

The functioning of the vital organs is entirely intertwined with the proteins absorbed by the body, however, overheating the body destroys these proteins, affecting the proper functioning of the organs, thus, consequently, causing damage, and even death.

The intense heat wave that passed through Europe in the summer of 2022 broke records and became the hottest in the history of the European continent. And, for the first time in history, London recorded more than 40°C. Soon, according to a study carried out on Monday (10) by the scientific journal Nature Medicine, more than 61,000 people died last year due to the intense heat on the continent.

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This thermal imbalance in the human body is called “hypertemia”. Unlike “hypothermia”, which is caused by low temperature in the body, hyperthermia is just the opposite, as it is caused by high temperatures. And from this heightened condition of heat within the body, health degrades, leading to dehydration, fainting, or even worse damage.

In an interview with G1 last year, the general practitioner and specialist in preventive medicine, Carlos Machado, explained that there is a change in proteins in the blood that, consequently, ends up negatively affecting the vital organs.

“The organism begins to ‘cook’ from the inside, unbalancing the entire metabolism”simplified the specialist.

The main symptoms of hyperthermia have been highlighted according to Priscila Currie, a Brazilian paramedic who works in London, namely: fainting and dehydration with heatstroke. People with cardiovascular disease have suffered in the same way, points out the paramedic.

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“It’s not because the British are different from the Brazilians. The infrastructure is the issue, the houses were made to keep the heat inside, it’s a cold country. In the summer, in England, it doesn’t usually go over 33ºC and, even when it does, it lasts all day, it rains later. Children, growing up, learn to deal with the cold, but not with the sun”says the paramedic, graduated from St George’s University.



Priscila also highlighted in an interview for G1 in 2022 what we all grew up listening to, which is: using sunscreen, not keeping your head under the sun and drinking plenty of water.

“It’s not customary here, they don’t understand the danger of staying under the scorching sun. The sun rises at five in the morning and sets at nine-thirty at night. It’s a very long day, and at night it starts to get hot. disperse inside the houses, which do not have air conditioning”reports Priscilla.

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The Brazilian paramedic also says that it is not just the heat wave to blame, but also the lack of infrastructure in the city for this type of situation. Because the subway, for example, which has been in operation for 158 years, does not have air conditioning, and the only ventilation is through the movement of transport itself.

“A well-organized structure prevents deaths. There are a lot of people drowning because they dive in places that are not suitable for bathing. Apart from that, later, we will have to deal with waterborne diseases, such as bacterial and amoebic infections”comments the paramedic.

The death rate is relatively high compared to the United States, which has a climate similar to that of Europe, the temperate climate. Recently, at least 16 people died due to the high temperature in the US country. Incidentally, the North American country has not only been counting on the heat wave, but also on forest fires that occurred in the south of the country by its neighbor, Canada.

Die from the heat? How is it possible?

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There are three different types of hyperthermia: the classic one, caused by excessive exposure to the sun and heat; that of physical activity, which happens when the individual does an exercise and cannot return to the usual temperature; and the malignant, resulting from certain medications, such as analgesics, for example.

Most of the current cases in Europe are classified as classic hyperthermia, as they are usually situations where residents are used to a mild climate and, suddenly, experience large heat waves.

“A person who has high temperatures for a long time suffers hemolysis, which is the destruction of red blood cells. The body begins to alter blood proteins, and we have to remember that everything in our body is protein. Antibodies, cells, white blood cells, the blood plasma, all of this starts to be denatured. (…) The heart rate goes up a lot, the kidneys, liver and brain start to have difficulties in functioning”explained Carlos Machado, a general practitioner specializing in preventive medicine, to G1.

According to the doctor, the little magic potion for the problem is called water. Because the temperature of the organism is totally linked to the functioning of the kidneys, which regulate the volume of water inside the body and the retention of sodium, controlling the pressure.

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main symptoms

The main symptoms of hyperthermia are:

  • Weakness;
  • Excessive sweating;
  • Headaches;
  • Dizziness;
  • fainting;
  • Cramps;
  • Hallucinations;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Convulsions;
  • Low blood pressure;
  • Short and fast breathing.

It is worth emphasizing the importance of medical care when noticing these symptoms, otherwise they can lead to death. Generally, cold baths and the use of fans are recommended, however, if this is not effective, medication may be necessary.

Incidentally, medicines that regulate body temperature against fever are not effective against hyperthermia, warns Rede D’Or, an independent operator of hospitals in Brazil.

Featured photo: A woman walks in front of the House of Parliament of England during a heat wave. Henry Nicholls/REUTERS

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Heat wave in Europe causes deaths from overheating and damage to vital organs

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