New ‘climate cardiology’ specialty needed to tackle links be
As a result of human activities, levels of greenhouse gases are the highest they have been in at least 800,000 years, prompting a rise in global surface temperatures and associated climate change. Major sources of greenhouse gas emissions include fossil fuel burning, agriculture, deforestation and meat production. But globally, the healthcare sector is responsible for nearly 4.5% of emissions, as well as nearly 3% of fine particulate matter air pollution (PM2.5).

A transition from predominantly meat based to plant based diets is required, facilitated by a restructuring of food subsidies and taxation, suggest the authors. Red meat, which contains high levels of saturated fat, is an established risk factor for heart disease, and responsible for 738,000 cardiovascular deaths in 2019. A shift to active transport, such as walking and cycling, would not only help to promote physical activity but would also cut greenhouse gas emissions: physical inactivity was responsible for 639,000 cardiovascular deaths in 2019.

An expansion of green spaces in residential areas would help to reduce stress and soak up atmospheric CO2 while a shift away from coal, oil, and gas towards solar and wind power, geothermal energy, and hydroelectricity would save more than 20 million attributable deaths over the next 30 years. Burning coal or biomass for cooking or heating indoors releases considerable greenhouse gases and was responsible for over 1 million cardiovascular deaths in 2019. Therefore, providing clean cooking stoves is a cost-effective way of improving global cardiovascular health, while cutting emissions.

As to healthcare systems, they can reduce their carbon footprint by promoting telemedicine, local ambulatory care, and self-care, and by cutting down on overtreatment, overprescribing, and unnecessary interventions.