There is now no serious scientific debate: human actions are changing the world’s climate, and are set to do so at an increasing rate in coming decades. Urgent action is now required to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (the dominant long acting greenhouse gas), if global temperature rises are not to exceed 2°C—the International Energy Authority warns that “the door to 2°C is closing.” Indeed, emissions must be hugely curtailed within just two decades, and then zero net emissions achieved by later this century, assisted by increased biosequestration of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, emissions continue to rise, having increased by 49% since 1990 and by an accelerated annual rate of 5.9% in 2010.
Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century. Effects of climate change on health will affect most populations in the next decades and put the lives and wellbeing of billions of people at increased risk. During this century, earth’s average surface temperature rises are likely to exceed the safe threshold of 2°C above preindustrial average temperature. Rises will be greater at higher latitudes, with medium-risk scenarios predicting 2–3°C rises by 2090 and 4–5°C rises in northern Canada, Greenland, and Siberia. In this report, we have outlined the major threats—both direct and indirect—to global health from climate change through changing patterns of disease, water and food insecurity, vulnerable shelter and human settlements, extreme climatic events, and population growth and migration. Although vector-borne diseases will expand their reach and death tolls, especially among elderly people, will increase because of heatwaves, the indirect effects of climate change on water, food security, and extreme climatic events are likely to have the biggest effect on global health.
Shorter telomeres have been reported in premature myocardial infarction (MI) patients. Our work aimed at confirming the association of shorter telomere with MI in two case–control studies and in familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) patients with coronary heart disease (CHD). The HIFMECH study compared 598 white male patients (<60 years) who survived a first MI and 653 age-matched controls from North and South Europe. Additionally, from the UK, 413 coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) patients and two groups of 367 and 94 FH patients, of whom 145 and 17 respectively had premature CHD, were recruited. Leukocyte telomere length (LTL) was measured using a real-time polymerase chain reaction-based method. In HIFMECH, LTL was significantly shorter in subjects from the North (7.99 kb, SD 4.51) compared to the South (8.27 kb, SD 4.14; p = 0.02) and in cases (7.85 kb, SD 4.01) compared to controls (8.04 kb, SD 4.46; p = 0.04). In the CABG study, LTL was significantly shorter (6.89 kb, SD 4.14) compared to the HIFMECH UK controls (7.53, SD 5.29; p = 0.007). In both samples of FH patients, LTL was shorter in those with CHD (overall 8.68 kb, SD 4.65) compared to the non-CHD subjects (9.23 kb, SD 4.83; p = 0.012). Apart from a consistent negative correlation with age, LTL was not associated across studies with any measured CHD risk factors. The present data confirms that subjects with CHD have shorter telomeres than controls and extends this to those with monogenic and polygenic forms of CHD.
Abstract Background The physiological responses to hypoxaemia and cellular hypoxia are poorly understood, and inter-individual differences in performance at altitude and outcome in critical illness remain unexplained. We propose a model for exploring adaptation to hypoxia in the critically ill: the study of healthy humans, progressively exposed to environmental hypobaric hypoxia (EHH). The aim of this study was to describe the spectrum of adaptive responses in humans exposed to graded EHH and identify factors (physiological and genetic) associated with inter-individual variation in these responses. Methods Design Observational cohort study of progressive incremental exposure to EHH. Setting University human physiology laboratory in London, UK (75 m) and 7 field laboratories in Nepal at 1300 m, 3500 m, 4250 m, 5300 m, 6400 m, 7950 m and 8400 m. Participants 198 healthy volunteers and 24 investigators trekking to Everest Base Camp (EBC) (5300 m). A subgroup of 14 investigators studied at altitudes up to 8400 m on Everest. Main outcome measures Exercise capacity, exercise efficiency and economy, brain and muscle Near Infrared Spectroscopy, plasma biomarkers (including markers of inflammation), allele frequencies of known or suspected hypoxia responsive genes, spirometry, neurocognitive testing, retinal imaging, pupilometry. In nested subgroups: microcirculatory imaging, muscle biopsies with proteomic and transcriptomic tissue analysis, continuous cardiac output measurement, arterial blood gas measurement, trans-cranial Doppler, gastrointestinal tonometry, thromboelastography and ocular saccadometry. Results Of 198 healthy volunteers leaving Kathmandu, 190 reached EBC (5300 m). All 24 investigators reached EBC. The completion rate for planned testing was more than 99% in the investigator group and more than 95% in the trekkers. Unique measurements were safely performed at extreme altitude, including the highest (altitude) field measurements of exercise capacity, cerebral blood flow velocity and microvascular blood flow at 7950 m and arterial blood gas measurement at 8400 m. Conclusions This study demonstrates the feasibility and safety of conducting a large healthy volunteer cohort study of human adaptation to hypoxia in this difficult environment. Systematic measurements of a large set of variables were achieved in 222 subjects and at altitudes up to 8400 m. The resulting dataset is a unique resource for the study of genotype:phenotype interactions in relation to hypoxic adaptation.