A Canadian doctor diagnosed a patient with ‘climate change’ and said ‘her health problems were worsening’
A Canadian doctor pointed to “climate change” as the cause of a patient’s asthma after finding that an unprecedented heat wave and poor air quality were contributing to the person’s deteriorating health.
dr. Kyle Merritt, who works at a hospital in Nelson, British Columbia, said environmental hazards led him to make his first clinical diagnosis of “climate change” after treating the patient who was struggling to breathe.
“If we don’t look at the underlying cause and only treat the symptoms, we will continue to fall further and further behind,” the emergency room physician told Glacier Media.
“I’m just… trying to process what I see.”
dr. Kyle Merritt, who works at a Vancouver hospital, said environmental hazards led him to make his first “climate change” diagnosis while treating an asthma patient.
Temperatures in Lytton, British Columbia, about 250 miles east of Vancouver, reached 121 in June during a five-day heat wave, according to the Canadian Weather Service.
Officials warned the unprecedented heat would have ‘multiple health effects’
The diagnosis came shortly after a historic June heat wave killed nearly 500 Canadians over a five-day period as temperatures soared above 121F.
When the heat wave was over, it was replaced by another health threat, as thick smoke from wildfires compromised air quality.
“We’re in the emergency room, taking care of everyone from the most privileged to the most vulnerable, from the cradle to the grave, we see everyone. And it’s hard to see people, especially the most vulnerable in our society, being affected. It’s frustrating,” he said.
Merritt also spoke of a patient in her 70s whose ailments worsened during the heat wave.
‘She has diabetes. She has some heart failure. … She lives in a trailer, no air conditioning,” he told the outlet. “All her health problems have worsened. And she really struggles to stay hydrated.”
The observations made by Merritt and other doctors in the western Canadian province encouraged colleagues to launch Doctors and Nurses for Planetary Health.
The health care professionals are using the group to advocate for better health by protecting the environment, they said on the website.
“We are deeply concerned about the climate crisis and its impact on health,” the group’s website reads. ‘This summer, our patients have experienced extreme weather conditions, such as heat domes, drought and severe forest fires. Record temperatures rose above 40 degrees Celsius in June and air pollution from wildfires reached 43 times safe levels in July and August. ‘
The heat wave was followed by wildfires, such as on July 1, 2021 on the side of a mountain in Lytton, British Columbia.
On June 30, a plume of smoke rises from a wildfire in McKinley Lake, British Columbia
“…as doctors and nurses, we saw firsthand the physical and mental effects of climate change on our patients and communities.”
British Columbia was disproportionately affected by the very highest temperatures in June, reaching 121F in Lytton.
Of the 486 people who died in Canada during the June heat wave, nearly all lived on the West Coast, British Columbia chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said.
The blistering temperatures are caused by a dome of static high-pressure hot air that traps heat in one location
The effects of climate change on human health have been extensively documented.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on their website that global warming will cause some existing health threats to worsen, while new health risks emerge.
The forecast is even sharper by the predictions of the World Health Organization (WHO).
The World Health Organization said climate change will kill about 250,000 people a year between 2030 and 2050 from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress.
British Columbia residents keep cool in Maple Ridge on June 28, 2021
Climate change will kill about 250,000 deaths a year between 2030 and 2050 from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress, it said on its website.
Last December, a coroner ruled that air pollution in London, England, contributed to the death of a nine-year-old girl who suffered a fatal asthma attack.
Ella Kissi-Debrah was considered the first person in British history to have air pollution on his death certificate.