Not To Over-Expose Yourself This Winter


As winter approaches and the temperature drops, people – particularly the elderly and those with a pre-existing heart or lung disease – are advised to wrap up warmly and avoid the cold as much as possible.

Medics around the world have long recognised an increased mortality rate that is associated with a drop in the temperature.

Researchers speculate that, in the case of coronary events at least, the colder temperature causes changes in the circulation such as increased viscosity of the blood and arterial narrowing. This increases the work of the heart to the extent that when a person comes from a warm room to a cooler outdoor environment the subsequent rise in cardiac workload and oxygen consumption could trigger an acute coronary syndrome.

However, as we live in the glorious Mediterranean climate of southern Spain shouldn’t we worry more about hot weather episodes than cold ones? Perhaps not. Findings reported in The Lancet last year indicate that cold weather causes 20 times as many deaths as hot weather.

Interestingly, the research showed that it is moderate changes in weather rather than extreme cold or hot spells that lead to the increased deaths. And even more pertinent to us is work from Adrien Barnett and colleagues showing that an increase in coronary events was markedly greater when the temperature dropped in countries with warmer temperatures than in colder ones. This might be because indoor heating is less effective in warmer climes and that dress attire is less appropriate when people are used to the warmth.

Women, especially those above age 60, were more at risk than men. As a possible explanation for this gender difference, the researchers cite another study showing that women in warmer climes were less likely to wear trousers in winter than those from colder ones.

So, let’s not be complacent living in this wonderful climate of the Costa del Sol and remember that, as the temperature drops with the advent of winter, we too need to take appropriate measures. Now where did I put my jeans?


Rachel Garrod PhD MSc is a physiotherapy lecturer and stop smoking counsellor

Tel. (+34) 652 281 122

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