Cold weather costs lives warns Belper GP

A Belper GP is appealing to people to take extra precautions this winter amid fears that this could be the coldest winter in a century.

Temperatures are expected to remain close to freezing over the coming week, with a strong possibility of plunging overnight temperatures of below zero. And this could put lives at risk, particularly the elderly and those more susceptible to illness because of a weakened immune system or underlying health problem.

The cold weather is a killer – and claimed the lives of 101 people in Amber Valley over the past three years who would not otherwise have died at that time.

Around 25,000 more people in England and Wales died two winters ago because of the cold, which can increase heart rate and blood pressure as the body tries to keep itself warm and the chances of a blood clot as the blood becomes more sticky –leading to heart attacks and stroke. The damp and dark conditions also increase the risk of falls and the cold leading to hypothermia.

Dr Mark Browne, of Appletree Medical Practice in Duffield, said: “The Met Office is predicting a particularly bad cold spell over the coming weeks, with some long-range forecasters warning that temperatures could drop to as low as minus 20Cin some parts of the country through December and January.

“So if you are elderly, vulnerable or do suffer from a long-term health problem, keep yourself warm in and outdoors. If you are pregnant, over 65 or suffer from a long termillness, the flu jab offers the best protection against the virus, which can be potentiallyfatal in ‘at risk’ groups.

“If you take regular medications, make sure you have sufficient supplies and remedies to treat yourself when you are becoming unwell. It’s also prudent to ensure that you have access to help and support when you may need it, and try to heat your main living room to around 18C to 21C during the day.”