Experts suggested that women may be more vulnerable than men to extremely high temperatures, such as heat waves in Britain.
A plan to tackle the heat wave in England says those at high risk include children over 75, young children, people with serious physical or mental illnesses and women.
The document does not explain the reason for the inclusion of women in the list, however, the United Kingdom Health Protection Agency cites a study conducted in the Netherlands that analyzed mortality rates after multiple heat waves and found that the elderly Women were at higher risk than men. The researchers noted that the results were not solely due to age.
“Even when age parity was considered, the mortality rate was 15% higher for women,” the team wrote of their analysis of data from a 2003 heat wave recorded in France.
Another study by Dutch and German researchers, looking at 23 years of temperature data from the Netherlands, along with daily mortality, also found differences between the sexes.
“Heat-related mortality was higher in women than men, especially in the older group (≥80 years) under extreme heat conditions,” he explained.
The team noted that the findings did not appear to result in older people being more sensitive to heat or women generally living longer than men.
Hein Danen, professor of exercise physiology at VU University in Amsterdam and one of the study’s authors, said the team hypothesized that low sweat production in women may play a role.
“Roughly speaking, older[people]sweat only half as much as younger people, and women sweat half as much as men,” he explained. In other words, the study said, “older women have the least ability to remove heat from the body.”
The team suggested that heat stress on the cardiovascular system may also play a role. “Cardiovascular stress appears to be higher in women, which may explain their higher risk of heat mortality,” they wrote.
Among other possibilities, the team noted that older women may be at greater risk because they are more likely to be alone – a known risk factor in hot weather – and may be less active overall than older men. . House.
“Continuing these activities during heat waves while remaining less fit puts women at greater risk of overheating and cardiovascular stress than men,” the team wrote.
Ollie Jay, professor of heat and health at the University of Sydney, also notes that studies have shown that young, healthy women have lower peak sweat rates than their male counterparts.
“Whether or not more women show up in heat wave mortality and morbidity data, we still don’t know for sure. It is also not known whether this effect of sex has any relation with age,” he said.
Mike Tipton, a professor of human and applied physiology at the University of Portsmouth, said women may be more prone to heat waves because their core temperatures are higher after ovulation, while men tended to be smaller than others. and therefore they have a higher surface area-to-mass ratio, which means they heat up more quickly.
However, Jay commented: “The most likely answer is that it is a combination of factors and we need to do more research to understand what is going on.”