Winter is here…

It’s that time of year again: the nights are drawing in and winter is here. Sadly, each winter 1 older person dies every 7 minutes from the cold weather and many more become seriously ill.

How does the cold affect the health of older people?

You might think that the cold is a major cause of hypothermia. That’s a myth. Very few deaths amongst older people in the winter are from hypothermia. The lethal effects of the cold strike much before the body gets that cold. Cold temperatures not only increase the likelihood and severity of flu and respiratory problems, but being cold also thickens the blood and increases blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Continue reading “Winter is here…”

The shame of excess winter deaths

This morning the Office for National Statistics announced that there were 31,100 excess winter deaths last winter.

To say this is a national shame (as we have done) is both a cliché and also absolutely true.

Excess winter deaths – or the additional deaths during the winter months when compared to the rest of the year – are entirely preventable.

We know this because other countries with much harsher winters – such as the Scandinavian countries – have significantly fewer excess winter deaths.440x210_Snow-in-Shepton-Mal

Yet in the UK the numbers remain stubbornly high. Today’s figures show a 29% rise on the previous year and represent a four year high.

We all know that last winter was cold and long, but the figures are still unacceptable. That older people’s lives are still at the mercy of the weather in the twenty-first century is something we should rightly be ashamed of. Continue reading “The shame of excess winter deaths”