June 21, 2024

The Impact of Climate Change on Brain Health: A Growing Concern for Neurological Conditions and Psychiatric Disorders

Climate change, with its far-reaching consequences on weather patterns and extreme events, poses a significant threat to the health of individuals with neurological conditions and psychiatric disorders, according to a team of researchers led by Professor Sanjay Sisodiya from UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology.

In a thought-provoking article published in The Lancet Neurology monitoring, the researchers emphasize the importance of understanding the influence of climate change on neurological diseases to preserve health and reduce health inequalities. After meticulously reviewing 332 studies published between 1968 and 2023, they anticipate that the impact of climate change on neurological diseases will be substantial.

The team analyzed 19 various nervous system conditions, including stroke, migraine, Alzheimer’s, meningitis, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis, based on the Global Burden of Disease 2016 study. Furthermore, they examined the impact of climate change on several common psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia.

Professor Sisodiya, who is also the Director of Genomics at the Epilepsy Society and a founding member of Epilepsy Climate Change, stated, “There is compelling evidence that climate change affects some brain conditions, particularly stroke and nervous system infections. The climatic factors that influence brain diseases include temperature extremes (both high and low) and greater temperature variability, especially when these conditions are seasonally unusual.”

Nighttime temperatures may play a crucial role, as higher temperatures during the night can disrupt sleep. Sleep disturbances have been linked to a range of brain conditions.

The researchers identified an increase in hospital admissions, disability, or mortality due to stroke in higher ambient temperatures or heatwaves. Moreover, individuals with dementia are vulnerable to harm from temperature extremes (heat-related illness or hypothermia) and weather events (flooding or wildfires), as cognitive impairment can limit their ability to adapt to environmental changes.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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