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The health threats of thunderstorms and other stories . . .

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f6461 (Published 30 October 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6461

Summer thunderstorms refresh the garden and have inspired such admirable works as P G Wodehouse’s Summer Lightning and the last movement of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. But they can also be bad news for people with asthma. On 23 July this year, the blue skies of southern England grew dark and crackled as thunderstorms moved in; at the same time, people with asthma and breathing difficulties began to crowd the emergency departments of London hospitals (Emergency Medicine Journal 2013, doi:10.1136/emermed-2013-203122). We know this because, since it was set up to cover the London Olympics, the emergency department syndromic surveillance system (EDSSS) routinely monitors anonymised attendance data on a daily basis across a sentinel network of 35 emergency departments.

When both ventricles beat in unison, the heart beats more efficiently, and cardiac resynchronisation therapy—or biventricular pacing—improves symptoms and survival in people with severe systolic heart failure and …

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