New Delhi: It is time to wrap senior citizens in Delhi in the shield of warmth as critical cold is wreaking havoc on them. Aakash Healthcare experts are making fervent appeal senior citizens, children and people at large to be indoors and keep themselves warm.

With the mercury dropping to the lowest in several parts of the country, “in the last few days, we have seen 30-40% upsurge in cold weather health emergencies. Patients are coming with complaints of pneumonia-related symptoms, heart attack and strokes” informs Dr. Shaarang Sachdev, Consultant & Head, Department of Emergency Medicine, Aakash Healthcare.

With the temperatures touching almost zero degrees in the capital, experts warn against adverse effects of cold weather and advice people, particularly seniors to take proper actions especially if they have a pre-existing health condition.

“Cold weather seen in extreme winters in countries which have seasonal changes in weather leading to extreme cold has been known in the past to cause an increased risk of acute stroke and thrombotic events in our body”, emphasis Dr Madhukar Bhardwaj, Senior Consultant & HOD, Neurology, Aakash Healthcare.

Expressing his concerns about the dire effects of extremely cold temperatures, Dr Madhukar informs that every one-degree decrease in temperature is known to increase the risk of stroke occurrence by around 4% to 6%, which could lead to high instances of stroke. Also, temperatures less than 13% significantly increase the risk of acute stroke.

Dr Madhukar further informs that extreme temperature drop causes vasoconstriction and an increase in blood pressure and also makes our blood more viscous. With the rise in blood pressure, the blood becomes more viscous. And increased vasoconstriction significantly raises the risk of stroke and thrombotic events in our body.

Dr Madhukar emphasises, “one can prevent the risk of stroke developing during winters by ensuring that their blood pressure and other risk factors for stroke are in good control. Ensure that you keep yourself warm, and stay indoors. If there is an extreme drop in temperature, ensure that your blood sugar is under control and check your blood pressure more frequently in case the blood pressure is raised. Besides, ensure that the BP medications are changed adequately or increased temporarily during these extremely harsh weathers.”

“During winters, we are witnessing aggravated cases of heart strokes, not only in the senior population but people at large”, stresses Dr Ashish Agarwal, Director, Cardiology – Unit 1, Aakash Healthcare.

Sharing his views on the effects of severe cold air on seniors and the elderly, Dr Vikramjeet Singh, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine at Aakash Healthcare said, “old people are very sensitive to cold because they have a thinner layer of fat under their skin as compared to young people. Extreme cold temperatures and even the chilly temperatures when you have a cold house predispose the elderly population to hypothermia. Hypothermia is a dangerous condition for older people because it increases the risk for heart diseases and kidney diseases, which are mostly present or pre-existing in these older patients.”

Dr Vikramjeet elaborates, “a lower body temperature can increase the complications related to diabetes, and peripheral vascular disease, and can lead to leg ulcerations. Also, in this chilly weather, adults and older people are prone to acquire chest infections which can in turn lead to bronchitis and pneumonia. All these factors make older people more susceptible to cold and that is why they are at a higher risk of getting more diseases than the younger people”.

Dr Vikramjeet informs that cold weather has an adverse effect on elderly people and for this reason, we always advise the elderly to wear warm clothes and always wear socks – the feet should especially be warm. The window should be covered so that the cold cannot peep in.