The elderly are among those most vulnerable to the cold and should take extra precautions as temperatures drop in the coming days. With the Met Office puts a Level 2 cold weather alert in place for the majority of the country, one expert has spoken about the fact that cold does kill.
Dr Angie Bone of the Extreme Events team at Public Health England said: “Cold does kill, even in places where the temperatures aren’t at their lowest.
“Now is the time to prepare for the cold weather forecast by the Met Office, and to think of those you know who are older, very young, or have pre-existing health conditions who are particularly vulnerable.
In the wake of high pressure at the beginning of the week, bringing in widespread frost, the Met Office is predicting a cold start to December. This makes now an important time for the elderly to ensure they have the measures in place to keep warm throughout the winter.
During the winter of 2014-2015, the number of excess winter deaths was uncommonly high, resulting in 43,850 people losing their lives. Awareness campaigns and other measures led to this being almost halved for last winter (2015-2016), but does not mean that we should become complacent.
Further to this, official figures show that around 2,800 people die each week from cardiovascular disease (CVD) between the months of December and March in England and Wales. This equates to a 14 per cent increase on the rest of the year and begs the question, what is the connection between low temperatures and heart attacks and strokes?
This is something that the British Heart Foundation (BHF) is investigating by funding research at University College London. A better understanding could lead to more effective treatments and better preventative measures in the long-run.
Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the BHF, said: “We know that as you get colder, your blood vessels constrict and the blood thickens increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke.
“People with chronic heart disease are around 11 times more likely to die if they develop flu compared to healthy individuals, therefore, it is particularly important that people living with heart conditions are well prepared, keep warm during the winter and have a flu jab.”
The elderly living in Barchester care homes are kept wonderfully warm during the winter months and monitored in case of any extra medical care that is needed. This helps to give relatives peace of mind during the colder time of year.